Thoughts on mediocrity, poverty, and micro-loans.

I just started reading this book called "Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard". It's a compilation of segments of his writings, ordered by topic; slightly more accessible than reading his complete works. Kierkegaard's got some strong words for the 19th century church that are just as applicable today. Case is point:

"The greatest danger to Christianity is, I contend, not heresies, heterodoxies, not atheists, not profane secularism - no, but the kind of orthodoxy which is cordial drivel, mediocrity served up sweet."

He talks about faith being trampled "amid smiling, Christian politeness." I read this, and all I can do is cringe, not so much because I see it all around me (which I do), but because I see it in myself. Brutal.

On a more positive note, my pastor here has been doing sermons about financial responsibility. How can that possibly be positive, you ask? Well, he's recommended a couple great websites to check out. My excuses for not giving usually boil down to either "I don't want to just give a handout." or "How do I know what their doing with my money is really worth while?" But each of these organizations seem to be using the money wisely, in ways that will really make some long term changes.

One -- The main goal here is to end extreme poverty by raising awareness and by pressuring world governments to follow through on the 1% gdp pledge they have already allocated but have resisted actually giving toward ending poverty. Check out the declaration and sign on to join the movement.

Opportunity International -- This group gives small loans and training to people around the world to help them start their own businesses and become financially independent. You can't argue with that. It's a good thing.

Compassionate Ministries -- Okay, so, I've heard many a guilt trip from places like these complete with pictures of big eyed children with flies on their faces. But, despite my general discomfort with these advertising tactics, I think they are doing good. Every kid deserves a decent education and, of course basic health needs and care. And, as a little perk to the giver, we get little notes and pictures from our kid.

Lastly, a little plug for my cool friend Jackie's "$100 a Month" blog. Giving just $100 a month can make a big difference. Join up.


Everland Adventure!

God bless Korean holidays. And non-retail jobs that assure you will get off on every red numbered holiday on the calendar. It's almost as good as working for the U.S. government.

Last Wednesday was a holiday. For what, no one seems to know, but we took advantage of it and whisked ourselves away to Everland, Korea's answer to Disneyland (click here for more pics). And, indeed, they seemed to take their cue from everything Disneyland-ish, from the quaint shops of main street to the electric light parade, which, I swear, had little musical quotes from the Disney one. The main difference was that instead of crab cakes at the Blue Bayou restaurant, we were stuck with peanut butter octopus (no joke!) and bulgogi burgers.

Although the food left something to be desired, the company didn't. We marveled at the foreign performers (none of them Korean) and laughed at classic misspellings, like the "Pizza Rool" ("Pizza Roll" on another nearby menu) and the succulent "Soft Baked Crap". The rollercoasters were decent and the theme rides at least mildly entertaining. But the best part was hanging out with super cool people who will ride subways wearing animal hats. You guys rock.


Bauer or Bourne?

While watching Jack Bauer single-handedly wipe out 7 terrorists with only a handgun, stealth, and a chain, this formidable question arose: in a battle between Jack Bauer and Jason Bourne, who would win? They both have to be the biggest bad-asses ever to grace the screen. Man, I just can't decide....a tie maybe?