Indonesian Earthquake-Please Give

I got the following information in an email from Mercy Corps, a relief and development agency I trust, founded by a Christian Dan O’Neill and supported by singer John Michael Talbot. Please give.
Help Speed Relief to Earthquake Survivors
Thousands of survivors from Saturday’s earthquake in Indonesia are injured, homeless and grieving for lives lost. Mercy Corps is in the most affected villages on the island of Java, rushing rapid relief to those in need.
We need your help to deliver ongoing, critical aid to families who have lost everything.
Our emergency response team is providing families whose homes were destroyed with “survival kits” that contain tarpaulins, blankets and hygiene products. Temporary shelter is one of the most important issues in the aftermath of the earthquake, which killed almost 5,700 people and left 200,000 without homes.
Mercy Corps in working in four villages around the devastated city of Bantul. The agency expects to serve more than 25,000 survivors in the near-term, then continue to assist families as they rebuild their homes and lives.
Mercy Corps has a long history of helping Indonesian families recover from conflict and disasters. We responded with lifesaving aid within hours of the 2004
Indian Ocean Tsunami, and are still helping over 423,000 tsunami survivors as they continue to restore their communities.
Earthquake survivors need your help today. Please speed immediate relief to them by making a generous donation today.

This morning listening to the radio on the way on in, they were noticing that many in the West are experiencing compassion fatigue from too many disasters around the world in recent years. I confess I have felt this a little at times, but more so in more personalized presentations of need. But compassion fatigue? Really? And even if it is there, what about hunger fatigue, sickness fatigue, heartsick fatigue? What about fatigue from hopelessness?
I remember reading a war comic many years ago and in one scene the soldiers are having break in the action and the commander says “Smoke, if you got ’em,” meaning cigarettes. Well, might I similarly suggest, “Give if you got it.”

Get a Charge-The Current

Just a quick post from work to let you all know about a cool online radio station I am listening to just now. My friend Annette recommended it as a good source to find new “Finds” in Indie music and to hear what’s new from old favorites. And, in my brief listening, I have already found this to be true. Good stuff.
The Current comes to you from Minnesota Public Radio. I would recommend keeping their page open also as you listen as it lets you know who is “Now Playing,” always a nice feature.
Also, make sure check out the free track, The Henney Buggy Band, from Sufjan Steven’s upcoming album The Avalanche which consists of extra tracks from the Illinois recording sessions.

MS-150 Bicycle Tour

For the past three years I have been riding a 150 mile charity ride to raise funds Multiple Sclerosis research.
After last year’s tour, I put down my bike and did not pick it up again for nearly four months. Not a good and balanced strategy for staying in shape. Mind you, intially, part of the reason was because of blisters (I will spare you the details), but then I got out of the drill of enduring pain for an hour or two to get a host of benefits throughout the day.
And, so, last year I determined that I was not going to do the MS-150 this year. Three times in a row was a nice feat, was it not? The 200+ miles of last year’s ride were a good note to end on, no?
Well, it is spring again and a young man’s thoughts turn to…well, how his $1000 bike…
…is a clothes rack, and that for clothes that fit much too snugly. And, well, why not? It is a good cause.
Last year, I raised $1071 and shaved my legs. This year, I am shooting for $1200. I have not figured out just what incentive I might give my supporters to reach my fundraising goal. Shaving my head is a logical choice, but I am rather enjoying my long locks. Any suggestions?
If you would like to support this worthy cause, you may contribute by either letting me know >via email how much you wish to donate and then sending a check to me, or going online and donating via bank/credit card from this page (the donation link is on the top right). This really is the best option.
And 200 miles again? I don’t think so, but who knows. For reports on previous tours see below:
2004 & 2003
And, if you would like to join me in riding, come on along. It will be fun…well, kind of…but well worth it. You can sign up here.

“Your Mother is a Whore!”

Here is a prescient and humorous point from a review of Da Da Vinci Code by Steven D. Greydanus, who is a Christian (and I believe Catholic) film reviewer. The entire review is worth reading.
Is it possible to put all this aside and just enjoy the story as a thriller, an enjoyable yarn? I honestly have no idea how people can take that approach.
Catholic writer Mark Shea tells an anecdote about a college bull session among students at Central Washington University over The Da Vinci Code. “Even if it’s just fiction,” a student opined, “it’s still interesting to think about.”
To which another student replied: “Your mother’s a whore.” And then, to the first student’s stunned incredulity, he added, “And even if that’s just fiction, it’s still interesting to think about.”

This quote reminds me of a phrase which I like a lot which one of my former pastors would remind me of when we were discussing troubles in the church, local and universal. Acknowledging its faults and flaws, we both have respect for aspects of the Catholic church. This phrase, though, really applies to the Church universal coming down through the ages, which will one day be Christ’s glorious, spotless bride.
“She’s a bitch and whore, but she still is my mother.”

Sitting on the Sidelines, but Definitely on a Specific Team

I am sorry to be sitting on the sidelines on this one, not having read the book, nor planning on seeing the movie (at least not on opening weekend).
Thankfully there are some faithful, thoughtful Christians not sitting on the sidelines.
Jeffrey Overstreet has been blogging with passion and comprehensiveness on this issue for some months, and a lot recently.
Catholic movie critic and scriptwriter, Barbara Nicolosi, has been blogging passionately for a long time
You might also consider joining the Othercott, an effort spearheaded by some Catholic groups. 10 things to do.
Finally, its just not getting that good reviews:
*Metacritic reviews
*Rotten Tomatoes reviews
I am not a huge fan of boycotts, but Indian Christians and Muslims get the potential harm the film might cause.

Mother’s Day Letter

Dear Mom,
Hi! Well, its been a while since I talked to you. I know I am not really not now either, but that is not important. It’s been almost 11 years now and sometimes I feel I haven’t grown a day since you’ve been gone. Of course I have, really.
Physically, that Bodenbach body that you always warned me I’d have to keep an eye on weight-wise has been doing exactly what you predicted. I remember your admonitions when I was a boy, “OK, Neil, that is your last cookie.” On the positive side, though, Mom, I have the broad shoulders of a man, and the beard I always worried would never fill in has, and I grow it at least once a year. And when Adi and Virg and I are dressed up, I think we would make you proud.
Mom, I’ve grown relationally and spiritually too. It is funny that I’ve become quite the thinker. It would have been nice to know what you would have thought of that. You probably would have brought me back down to earth at times. Also, Mom, at times I really feel God is able to use me relationally to encourage and help people, and someday I may even find that I am supposed to be a pastor. I am not sure about that, though.
Despite all that growth, though, Mom sometimes I feel emotionally just like that boy of 16, needing you there to affirm me, to give me wisdom, to pester me about girlfriends, and to provide a lap I could sit in no matter what size I got to be. Also, a “khoe” affects no one quite the way it did you. It would make goose pimples rise on your arms….If none receive “khoes,” different women do at times seem like “mother,” though, in various ways. None, of course, could ever replace you, nor is that what I am seeking, but sometimes a word, a touch, or an action will remind me of the gap your absence leaves in my life.
Well, Mom, just a few more things. Dad has been great. He loved you and loves us deeply. Sometimes I have not appreciated him enough or cared for him well enough. Of course, things would be much different if you were still here, but I know, I know, I know that God knows exactly what He is doing, and I love Him.
I do not know if you are reading this over my shoulder or not, or, perhaps, I am there with you too reading, reminiscing, and rejoicing in God in the light of the Eternal Day.
Much, much, much remembered love, your former son,
Neil 🙂
Judging from the number of years mentioned in this letter from the time of my mother’s passing, this letter was written in 1998.
Readers, thank you all for indulging a rather emotional string of posts this past week. Blessings on you all.