Category Archives: Uncategorized

What I might say if I were externally audited

By Contributor Daryl Geffken

Daryl Geffken

Something about the critique of Invisible Children moved me to a different layer of thought: the distribution of resources. In one way or another, almost every criticism centered on this very topic. Are the organization’s financials transparent? Is its appropriation of funds, well, appropriate?  More importantly, is it spending its energy in a manner that furthers others’ development? It made me wonder, how would I stand up to that scrutiny? How would you?

“I’m not a non-profit, or advocacy organization,” you may respond. Why not? Why don’t you look at yourself that way? Do you really believe what you have is yours and is solely the result of your hard work? Such hubris were not met well by Jesus.

Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, a theology professor, stated loving God and loving others is the human vocation. She suggested, “Love implies active commitment to the well-being of who or what is loved.” It follows, where there is suffering and oppression — whether local or global — such a definition of love requires an aspect of justice. This, in turn, requires challenging social structures that perpetuate such suffering. Based on this logic, Moe-Lobeda claimed many Christians, by their lack of action are, “defying the call to love.”

I have quite a few more thoughts on personal responsibility and the distribution of resources (time, money, relationships and conversation), and I will pick them up later.But for now, let’s just leave it at this question.

Perhaps we could share a deeper level of transparency between ourselves at this moment. In one sentence or paragraph, would you reveal what you fear and hope an external auditor might summarize of your distribution of resources?

I’ll go first: I fear that someone might find in the last two years, working on my degree has provided a justification for the lack of giving myself to others outside my family. And second, I have not found ways to incorporate the development of my family into the discipline of service for others.

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Finding new meaning in The Lord’s Prayer

By Contributor Pastor Eric Blauer

Pastor Eric Blauer

I have made an unsuspected friend in my missional journey of planting a church in the East Central Neighborhood in Spokane. The Lord’s Prayer has become a stable trellis to attach, support and sustain my soul in this ongoing experience.

Word’s that used to seem trite and simplistic have opened up like blooming petals and a fragrance has been released for me, which seemed to only come about through the trials and tribulations of life, work and worship in this neighborhood.

Last week I spent some time down the street where a suspected gang shooting took place, which ended up wounding a young child and young man. In the face of such violence and the complex social-economic-political-moral-spiritual realities behind these type of events, I found refugee and purpose in this prayer.

“Deliver us from evil,” was a phrase that took on newer meaning by the alley where these victims could have died as fear tried to get its grip my heart as I reflected on my own kids, wife and our home down the street.

“Forgive us,” resonated as I thought about all the brokenness and failure of our community and families and the repercussions upon the emerging generations.

“Thy kingdom come,” and “Hallowed be thy name,” became prophetic words of invocation sought to confront and transform the spiritual conflicts taking place in unseen realms in and among the streets and homes I passed.

Over these last six years I have grown quieter and smaller in prayer as I am faced with problems and possibilities that are so much bigger than I am in this part of Spokane. These situations have shaped my spirituality, or should I say whittled it down from the gregarious verbosity type of Charismatic triumphalism I had before to a more monkish contemplative posture. What I use to think represented power in prayer has been altered by the suffering of place and reborn into a form of prayer that is less in content but  has a potency unforeseen by me before.

When the noise of police sirens, conflict and cursing, speeding cars and community congestion dominate the atmosphere of neighborhood, I find myself longing to bring simplicity and silence to the battle more than ever before.

Now when I close the Lord’s Prayer with, “Amen (so be it, let it be so),” I find myself exhaling it like Noah releasing the dove, an act of hope and fait with a slight tinge of fear of the unknown world being born, yet, I continue to pray.

Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come. 
Thy will be done in earth, 
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us. 
And lead us not into temptation, 
But deliver us from evil. 
For thine is the kingdom,

The power, and the glory,

For ever and ever.

Amen.

Church sounds off with Planned Parenthood executive

By Tracy Simmons
SpokaneFAVS.com

Bethany Presbyterian Church wants to talk about the heated issues impacting Spokane.

That’s why members launched Sounding Board last month, a monthly speaker series that creates conversations around contemporary subjects, said the Rev. Paul Rodkey.

On Wednesday the group heard from Karl Eastlund, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho, who said people wrongly assume abortions are the organization’s main focus.

He said abortions make up 5 percent of the services Planned Parenthood provides, 13 percent is sexually transmitted disease screening and 82 percent of its efforts focus on family planning and annual exams.

“Unfortunately we do have a marketing and an image problem, so we have not been able to sell to the public, to inform them of the services we do as much as we’d like to” Eastlund said, after a church member asked why the organization seems to be so unpopular. Mainly, he added, because the organization would rather spend their money on serving the community than marketing.

Planned Parenthood recently made headlines when the Susan G. Komen Foundation announced it would no longer fund grants to the organization. Later, the foundation recanted its announcement.

Eastlund said the reversal came because Planned Parenthood supporters spoke up.

“The public was really strong about who they thought was in the right on that issue, and it was Planned Parenthood. And it was Planned Parenthood by a landslide,” Eastlund said.

He said the public’s outcry, along with President Barack Obama’s health care mandate proves “there is hope,” even though there’s still a lot of work to be done.

“For me it’s really an equality issue,” Eastlund said. “This past couple of months have been a great opportunity for the supporters of Planned Parenthood to say ‘we’ve had enough’ and to stand up and to speak very loudly about the fact that this (birth control) is a social justice issue and it’s really a basic equality issue. And until we get past that and win that battle, I think there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done in that area.”

He said although abortion and contraception have taken the public’s eye, the focus needs to also be on educating teenagers about STDs and safe sex. Spokane, he said, is ranked 22nd in teen pregnancy and has the fifth highest number of teenagers with Chlamydia. Nationally, he said 41 percent of teenagers know little or nothing about condoms, and 75 percent know little or nothing about contraceptive pills.

“There’s a lot of work that still needs to be done in Spokane,” Eastlund said.

He said churches, like Bethany, can help by boldly speaking up for Planned Parenthood and for by working with their youth in creative ways to prevent teenage pregnancies.

Tiffany Nakagawa, who organized the church’s Sounding Board, said these forums are designed to help the church step outside of its four walls and pay attention to what’s happening in the community and in the world.

“Knowledge is important,” she said. “But knowing what to do with that knowledge is more important.”

A forum won’t be held in April because of Easter, but in May the forum will focus on marriage equality in Washington.

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BRIEF: Romney wins WA

By Tracy Simmons
SpokaneFAVS.com

RNS photo courtesy Gage Skidmore.

Mitt Romney has won the Washington state caucuses.

It’s his fourth win in a row. In a statement he said Washington voters, “… want a conservative businessman who understands the private sector and knows how to get the federal government out of the way so that the economy can once again grow vigorously.”

According to the Associated Press, with more than 60 percent of the precinct votes counted by Saturday night, Romney had 36 percent of the vote, followed by Rick Santorum, who had 25 percent. Ron Paul was close behind with 24 percent of the vote and Newt Gingrich had 11 percent.

Paul hopes for a win in Washington

By Tracy Simmons
SpokaneFAVS.com

Ron Paul takes the stage at the Spokane Convention Center/Tracy Simmons - SpokaneFAVS.com

Ron Paul isn’t winning in the primary states, but on Friday at the Spokane Convention Center he said he’s cautiously optimistic he’ll have success here in Washington.

“I’ve always had support here,” he said. “We’ve have always had enthusiastic crowds.”

Supporters, both republican and democrat, nearly filled the center to hear him speak about why he should become the next president.

Ron Paul supporters cheered for him Friday in Spokane/SpokaneFAVS.com

“I’m here to support Dr. Ron Paul,” said Alex Capriana, co-pastor of Pilgrim Slavic Baptist Church.

He offered an invocation before Paul addressed the crowd.

“We’re here to talk about our future. We’re here to support Ron Paul…You are sending people to lead this country…We have to do lots to keep this country as God’s country…We want to be your people,” he prayed.

That prayer was about as religious as Paul’s rally got, unlike Rick Santorum’s rally on Thursday, which was held at an evangelical church.

Paul touched on religion briefly when he said citizen’s private lives, including their religious beliefs and practices, aren’t the government’s business.

“Be what religion you want to be or don’t want to be, the government’s not supposed to interfere. But when it comes to personal liberty all of a sudden these busybodies want to tell us exactly how to live our lives,” he said. “This is difficult for some, but you have to be tolerant of others.”

Ron Paul fan shows his support at the Spokane Convention Center/Tracy Simmons - SpokaneFAVS.com

He said the government should only step in when a private citizen commits fraud, abuses someone, steals or harms another person.

Paul also discussed his plans to repeal the 16th Amendment (income tax) and the Federal Reserve. He also spoke about his goal to bring all military troops home, noting America has no right to tell other countries how their citizens should live. Foreign policy, he said, needs to be changed.

He plans to campaign in Idaho and Alaska before voters take to the polls on Super Tuesday.

Spokane GOP precinct caucuses will be held Saturday at 10 a.m.

View more Ron Paul photos on our Flickr album.

The threat of ideological purity in politics

By Contributor Rev. Bill Ellis

Rev. Bill Ellis

A big part of the battle for this year’s Republican nomination has been couched in terms of which of the four remaining candidates is the most conservative. I cannot help but be suspicious of this. My reasons have nothing to do with conservatism itself, but rather with what seems to be the triumph of ideology over conservatism.

It has been noted in various editorial pages that all four remaining candidates have declared in one way or another that they are unalterably opposed to raising existing taxes or proposing new ones for any reason whatsoever. This isn’t a conservative position, it is an ideological commitment rooted in the notion that all taxes are inherently bad. That this ideology has nothing whatsoever to do with true conservatism is demonstrated by the simple fact that Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan and the first George Bush all proposed raising taxes at one point or another in their tenures as president, and none of them were any less conservative for it. Indeed, Reagan sponsored the largest tax hike by percentage in American history when he proposed the self-employment tax be raised from about 9 percent to the full 15.3 percent, thus requiring the self-employed to carry the full FICA tax burden employers share with their employees. On the other hand, the second president Bush, by sponsoring both the Medicare prescription supplement and the first TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) legislation without paying for a single penny of either, ruled in what The Economist characterized at the time as the style of a European socialist. Yet, because he proposed no new taxes he is a “conservative.”

Whether you are liberal or conservative — whatever those terms now mean — I think we should all be concerned about this trend.

We should be concerned because ideological purity is spiritually unhealthy for us all for a couple of reasons. First, it presumes that people are not a mixture; they really are all one thing or another. It presumes that saints can be separated from sinners with an easily understood and equally easily applied formula. Though parts of scripture support this idea, other parts do not; as early as the story of Cain and Abel the Bible begins to wrestle with the implications that people are capable of both good and evil. The flood story is another dramatic tale which concludes the search for purity is a losing effort, as God first turns to violence in an attempt to cleanse the earth of human sin, and then abandons violence altogether when he discovers that it doesn’t work, people haven’t changed. The story of Noah is right: we are a mixture, and a purely ideological approach to us and our situations never works.

The second problem with pure ideology is that if we do not allow ourselves to learn from our experience, if in fact we do not allow experience to temper our convictions, sooner or later our ideology will do us in.  The extreme left-wing learned this the hard way when communism refuted itself as the Soviet Union collapsed altogether. The People’s Republic of China quietly, and without admitting it in public, got the point as it became more or less as capitalist as the Nationalist Chinese, still camped out off shore on Taiwan.

I would love to see a serious challenge to President Obama’s handling of his first term in office, but we are not going to get one unless the commitment to ideological purity is abandoned in favor of a more pragmatic assessment of the situation we face. That is most unfortunate, for a healthy spirituality will lead us to a healthy body politic.  Who knew?

Jesus lived a compassionate life

By Contributor Daryl Geffken

Editor’s Note: This week SpokaneFAVS contributors are exploring the definition of compassion. Read Monday’s panel on this topic here.

Daryl Geffken

Compassion is sharing life with others, collecting their stories to the point that we walk with them rather than talk about them.  We must connect ourselves with the lives of others — others we would typically not choose.  I believe our compassion grows in relation to its direct contact with suffering.  We must find ways of engaging and deeply listening to the stories of others and then finding creative ways to allow those stories to find a larger voice.

I believe Jesus refocused people on what was important to God, not what had become acceptable to them.  Jesus and his followers frequently challenge an attitude of privilege.  Compassion and empathy drive Jesus’ view.  He upholds the principle that caring for people is more valuable than attaining material wealth and comfort, asking, “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” (Luke 9:25).  Jesus finally closed the gap between the haves and have-nots: In opposition to the concept of ownership, humanity is expected to be responsible for stewardship of the earth (Lev. 25:23-24).  It is given responsibility to do what is best for the planet and all who inhabit it.

One of Jesus’ main emphases was to treat people with value. Theologians have worked to establish Jesus’ authority and divinity.  He is a necessary and unique part of the triune God of Christianity.  Jesus clearly asserted his own authority and status as son of God.  Yet he also defined his identity as a servant, giving his life for others as the “son of man.”  Jesus demonstrated the rule of God always opposes the other gods and powers that seek to enslave humans.

Ultimately, Jesus’ authority is based upon his death on a cross, suffering as the servant Messiah prophesied by Isaiah.  Jesus’ kingdom was one based on authenticity and compassion, rather than oppression, which was demonstrated through welcoming love and liberating service to others.  Reading through the Gospel narratives of Jesus’ teaching through word and example confirms Jesus held a high regard for the value of people. This foundational value affected not only his actions, but his expectations of those who follow him as well.  He was clear in challenging his audience to live in holistic responsibility to others.  From this, it can be shown that Jesus desired a more egalitarian society than he encountered.  It can be argued that this is applicable today.