Archive for June, 2009
There’s a princess rider that sings a really annoying song every time you press the button that Iona is quite fond of. A couple of days ago I was singing the song in the house because it…well…gets stuck in your head. The exchange with Aidan went like this:
Aidan: STOP SINGING THAT SONG!!!
Me: Why? It’s catchy.
Aidan: It makes me throw up in my head.
Also, this afternoon, one word in Iona’s vocabulary now is ‘Hot Dog’ and in her words, it comes out as Dot Gog and it’s her answer to everything when she sits at the table (e.g. She sits down and says ‘Hot Dog?’).
Tonight Aidan and her were chatting and he held his hands out, cupped, like he was giving her something and here’s what was said:
Aidan: You like ripping pages out of the Bible? Bible? Iona?
Iona: Dot Gog?
ok…so maybe you had to be there for that one.
Did you notice it? You may not have, but today marked a turning point in our history as humans due to this link. We’ve been headed to this for a while, but two established ideas that we’ve held for a very long time were fundamentally changed today. In case you were living under a rock, the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was in a tightly contested race with Mir Hosein Moosavi. Moosavi ‘lost’ and widespread accusations of voter fraud took place. We could argue about the role of the president in a theocratic country like Iran, but that’s another story. At the end of the day there is good reason to believe that the election was rigged and alot of people are, essentially, revolting as a result.
I feel sufficently not worthy to discuss the runup to the revolution that is happening right now and to do so would negate the cause many people are giving their life for as we speak. I’ve heard said in the news, though, that this is a turning point for the country of Iran. My belief, though, is that is also a turning point for civilization as a whole because two long established ideas have been tossed out on their ear.
As a government seeks to supress information, traditionally the gameplan works itself out like this: expell journalists, take over the TV and kill dissidents. Due to twitter, though, information and video has poured out of iran faster than a water through a sieve. Twitter has become not only a vehicle for getting information out to the rest of the world but also a command and control mechanism for the revolutionaries within the country. What’s even more interesting is that the government shut down twitter only to find the rest of the world providing the means around the firewall; the tighter the grip, the more information came out and the more the dissidents were able to coordinate their movements even to the point of counteracting the state run TV station’s attempt at disinformation. Informal rules were setup in an effective way of defeating the state’s attempt at getting onto twitter to spread disinformation. At one point this week there was even a website setup identifying known disinformation sources on twitter and urging people to block them.
What this means is that idea of a tyranical government running media supression has failed and will likely be resigned to history. Any government stupid enough to try this in the future will find themselves with an even more difficult task ahead of them. I doubt the employees of twitter had thought of their site as having the ability to change human history, but what this means now is that the idea of a dictatorial regieme will fail if you’ve got people in your populace who dissent in their opinion.
The other mechanism that has changed as a result of this revolution is traditional media. Television, Newspapers, and the like found themselves getting their direct information from twitter and online sources as a result of this; tv and news were operating on a day by day basis and twitter was second by second. Journalism, I believe, has changed. It’s a nice idea, but the majority of information flowing out of the country now is coming direct from individual sources and there are enough of them that any attempt at manipulating that channel was quickly routed around. For example, a state run twitter account posted that today an explosion took place in downtown tehran and within minutes a hundred or so reports called that false; people that were physically within that space called it for what it was.
Today, though, was even more of a fundamental shift. The supreme leader of Iran announced yesterday that the rebelion had offically ended, that protests at this point were illegal and those protesting would be shot on site. Well…Moosavi called for a rally today that well over a hundred thousand people showed up for and the result was a great deal of bloodshed. Watching the stream today, you’ll find video, pictures, and accounts of extreme brutality to innocent people that is horrible and unjust and a desire to see justice done will well up inside you as you read the account of today. What you’ll also see is a country’s political structure demolished and rebuilt on the backs of the servers of twitter.com.
“These days are better than that. Every day I die again and again I’m reborn. Every day I have to find the courage to walk out into the street with arms out, got a love you can’t defeat–neither down nor out, there’s nothing you have that I need.” –U2 “Breathe”
“They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.” Hebrews 11:37-38
I’ve felt this for a little while and the above gave a voice to it. Forgive me for preaching for a second but I got a letter a couple of days ago and I’m fed up. In the past couple of years with being involved with the people and the process of getting Iona my world has been changed for the better, I think. I have the utmost respect and admiration for the staff of America World, the people who work in the Transition Home in Addis Ababa and people like my friend, Robel, who does *alot* for the Kingdom; he is someone I honestly look up to and would aspire to work as hard and is diligently for changing his world for the better. He is just one of many examples of people that we’ve met whose faith, in my opinion, belongs with the people of Hebrews 11 in that they have looked beyond their situation to the larger purpose of what God wants them to do and they are all courageous.
My letter I saw this week was written to, as I could guess, Christians with the sole purpose of casting a specter of fear into the heart of the reader. The letter intended to draw a grand conspiracy by ‘someone’ in the past 40 years with the goal of throwing the United States of America into a communist state. There was speculation that everything from removing prayer from school to a vast left wing conspiracy to enthrone Barack Obama as our new Stalinist dictator.
At the end of a day I have a wonderful family I come home to and three great, large examples of stories of the hope that God has given me. I guess I’m appreciating my situation, but praying for another opportunity to step out into God’s big story again. It’s so easy in our culture to be afraid and to protect and if there’s one thing I left Ethiopia with was a lessened fear of things and a walk with God demands a stepping away from fear and self-protection. Among the things God has given as a gift with parenthood is a glimpse into a world without fear where following God means relying solely on him and not me.
With that said, here’s a short list of things that I “should” (according to some people) be afraid of, but I’m not:
– Old age and a perceived accompanying irrelevance, “Middle age”, retirement
– Barack Obama
– a depression, recession, and the economy.
– Who is in the Supreme Court
– People who make different levels of income than me, look different than me, act different than me, or believe differently.
– People who speak another language
– People from different denominations from within Christianity
I suspect my list could get bigger here and I’m planning on revisiting it, but for now, fear is officially put on notice.
Hey everybody – A brief couple of links for your enjoyment:
http://forum.wgbh.org/lecture/ethiopian-contributions-world-music-instruments – here’s a talk by Ethiopian musican, Mulatu Astatke on Ethiopian music
and http://www.twitter.com/johnpiper. Of note, John has employed an excellent pastoral use of twitter as a medium and has upped the ante a bit. In a 140 characters, he succeeds in getting people to 1) spend more than the passing 3 seconds on an individual tweet and 2) challenge people to a vertical line of site. What’s interesting is how he will invite the reader to ‘fill in the blank’ by omitting words that should be there. I had originally thought it was for the sake of space, but omitting them is more beneficial in that it requires the reader pursue the blank. It constantly surprises me just how well people are using twitter in really creative ways.