Thursday, March 9

Sometimes we (read that "I") live in such an insular world - everything revolves us and what we are doing and our joys and our inconveniences and our plans and our "hardships." We act as though God's sole function is to make sure that we - sitting here in the prosperous USA and living a life that 98% of the world can only dream of - are happy and fulfilled and comfortable. Maybe that is just a personal problem of mine, but I don't think so. I've worked around college students and Christian people for a lot of years now. I know that this is a common malady. Even in our faith, we can become so "me" and "we" centered. Now, there are times when we break out of that for a little while. The tsunami in SE Asia a year ago. The hurricanes along the Gulf Coast last fall. But it doesn't take too long for us to fall back into our self-centered, ego-centric routines.

God did that again this week with an article I read about the stuff going on in Uganda and the Sudan. I'm not going to go into all the details here, but it is enough to make you sick to your stomach and your heart hurt. Here are a couple of links for you to check out:

The Invisible Children

Deliver Us From Kony

I also want to let you know - as people who have expressed a commitment to consider important the things that are important to God - to consider these passages:

Who is like you, O LORD? You rescue the poor from those too strong for them, the poor and needy from those who rob them. Psalm 35:10

Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the LORD understand it fully. Proverbs 28:5

The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern. Proverbs 29:7

Why, O LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises. He boasts of the cravings of his heart; he blesses the greedy and reviles the LORD. In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.... His mouth is full of curses and lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue. He lies in wait near the villages; from ambush he murders the innocent, watching in secret for his victims. He lies in wait like a lion in cover; he lies in wait to catch the helpless; he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net. His victims are crushed, they collapse; they fall under his strength. He says to himself, "God has forgotten; he covers his face and never sees." Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless. Why does the wicked man revile God? Why does he say to himself, "He won't call me to account"? But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless. Break the arm of the wicked and evil man; call him to account for his wickedness that would not be found out. The LORD is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land. You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more. Psalm 10:1-4, 12-18

The King will reply, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.... I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me." Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. Matthew 25:40, 45-46

Why do I share these things with you? Because I want us to see beyond ourselves and our immediate context. I want us to see beyond the UofA and the USA. I want us to care about the things that God cares about. I want our hearts to hurt by the same things that cause God’s heart to hurt.


Gordon Parks died on Tuesday. He was 93.

I don't know how many reading this blog will actually know who Gordon Parks is. But I would guess that he was the most famous person to be born or raised in my hometown of Ft. Scott, KS.

Here is part of the article from the NY Times:

"Gordon Parks, the photographer, filmmaker, writer and composer who used his prodigious, largely self-taught talents to chronicle the African-American experience and to retell his own personal history, died yesterday at his home in Manhattan. He was 93....

Gordon Parks was the first African-American to work as a staff photographer for Life magazine and the first black artist to produce and direct a major Hollywood film, 'The Learning Tree,' in 1969. He developed a large following as a photographer for Life for more than 20 years, and by the time he was 50 he ranked among the most influential image makers of the postwar years. In the 1960's he began to write memoirs, novels, poems and screenplays, which led him to directing films.... In 1970 he helped found Essence magazine and was its editorial director from 1970 to 1973....

Gordon Roger Alexander Buchanan Parks was born on Nov. 30, 1912, in Fort Scott, Kan. He was the youngest of 15 children born to a tenant farmer, Andrew Jackson Parks, and the former Sarah Ross. Although mired in poverty and threatened by segregation and the violence it engendered, the family was bound by Sarah Parks's strong conviction that dignity and hard work could overcome bigotry.

Young Gordon's security ended when his mother died. He was sent to St. Paul, Minn., to live with the family of an older sister. But the arrangement lasted only a few weeks; during a quarrel, Mr. Parks's brother-in-law threw him out of the house. Mr. Parks learned to survive on the streets, using his untutored musical gifts to find work as a piano player in a brothel and later as the singer for a big band. He attended high school in St. Paul but never graduated."

Over the past several years, Parks had been back to Ft. Scott several times and there are things around time that honor him and what he accomplished. My earliest memory of him was when he was in Ft. Scott filming "The Learning Tree" during my elementary school years.

You might want to read his memoir, "The Learning Tree," or see the film.

I wonder if I can rent it somewhere?


The NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships are here in Fayetteville this weekend. I always love this meet - the nation's best college athletes in an almost "three-ring circus" kind of environment. The Razorbacks are ranked #1 in the country and are looking for their 42nd team championship.

I'll be running the high jump events this weekend (there will be four of them). I'm also in charge of the about 135 certified officials who will be working the meet. A championship meet takes a lot of people! So the rest of this day will be filled with meetings with the NCAA Committee and various officials. I'll be at the track at about 7:00 tomorrow morning and the competition will start.

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