Cutting the fluff: deep reads for you this weekend

Sometimes a mindless jaunt through Pinterest is exactly what I need and want, but other times I am in search of words that push me to grow and stretch beyond the bounds of my own thinking. Here are a few links that have challenged me to think lately: 

  • Portraits of Reconciliation: 20 Years After the Rwandan Genocide 
    Check out Hotel Rwanda for a decent dose of background on this story...it is a movie with Don Cheadle (early 2000s, I think) that changed many facets of my perspective and awareness of the marginalized in our world. Reading and thinking about what these people have experienced, yet seeing how they embrace forgiveness and reconciliation...it is a piece that beautifully displays the mind blowing power of grace.  
  • World Vision, Gay Marriage, and a Different Way Through 
    Jen Hatmaker offers one of the most well-rounded posts about the firestorm that World Vision stirred up a few weeks ago. I don't agree with everything she writes but I do very much wish there were more voices addressing the deeper issues at play here in this particular conflict. The latest numbers are that 10,000 children's sponsorships were dropped over World Vision's announcement (though no clarification is offered on whether those were pre-or post- announcement and reversal). This is tragic. I am a very simple minded person, and am frustrated with the overcomplication of this issue. Dropping sponsorships of starving children, families, and communities over a disagreement in the biblical definition of marriage just seems absurd (especially when this is still an organization who clearly and openly believes and propogates the Gospel)...though there are plenty who disagree with me. Again, I am a very simple thinker, but sponsoring a child is sort of like seeing a starving child on the other side of the room and having to rely on a line of people to take the food you have in your hands and pass it to that child who needs it. These dropped sponsorships say, to me, that the sponsor would rather that kid starve than to pass them food through the hands of a gay person. It has broken my heart over how so many have failed to respond in truth AND generosity AND love, which is what the Christ I hear and read and feel and am trying to follow commanded us to do over and over. You may feel and believe very differently, and that is okay. I am a person conditioned to be grateful for thoughts and questions and comments that push the bounds of my own beliefs, interpretations of Scripture, and opinions so your voice will always be welcome here, friends. I have heard a wise man say that it's okay to question so long as we do not go beyond God for our answers. For me, the solution to this controversy is easily found over and over again in His Word in how seriously He takes how we treat one another, particularly those who are vulnerable. It is my belief that we can and should work together to serve the poor that despite disagreements on issues that are not a threat to the message of Jesus Christ. 
  •  To My Favorite Child 
    I've noticed recently, and have wondered if it should be cause for concern, how much closer I feel to one of my girls than the others. Is it just this station in life? Is it that we've had the most time together? Is it because we've been through so much together? Is it an age thing? I love them uniquely and equally, mind you, I just feel more connected to one of the three. Anybody else? What am I on the Parenthood Scale of Horribleness for this?
  • Movie Review: Noah 
    Hooo-weeeee this has been a hot topic on the interwebs lately. I really value Plugged In's insight because the writers are typically objective in their reviews. They always find something positive as well as practical (as opposed to the overtly sensational) criticism of a film, and it's one of the first places I go if I'm on the fence about whether a work is worthy of our time and money. Here's my take on this Noah thing...first of all, I fret that too many are discounting the film before giving it an honest and objective look. Unfortunately the picture above is most folks' mindset on the story of Noah, and that isn't exactly accurate. The story of the flood and most of humanity being obliterated is a very dark one, heavy with both sweet grace AND severe judgement. I think it will be good to see as a reminder that this piece of our human history isn't all rainbows and doves. I also like how, for some, this controversial work is driving people to God's Word in the quest for truth. Because I do not rely on blockbuster films as a reputable source for theological instruction, it isn't very troublesome or offensive that the film wouldn't be completely accurate. I appreciate the reminder that this is what the Bible is for. Are you going to see it? 
  • Can Schools Be Held Accountable Without Standardized Tests? 
    A few of you may recall that I am not a fan of standardized testing. My first post on the topic is now considerably dated, as there have been changes to some of the initiatives (though, well, not really significant) that currently drive the way we our kids are taught and assessed. I believe down to my marrow that standardized testing is a destructive and business-driven thief that is sucking the life out of education. I realize that teachers in the general education setting cannot change this. I'm one of thousands in our state who dislike and distrust everything about the tests but we administer them anyway because it's a job requirement and we like being able to buy groceries for our families. I know for a fact that the children themselves hate the tests but are powerless to do anything about it. Only parents can change the impact that standardized testing has on our kids, and that is to stop allowing our kids to be used as pawns in the name of accountability. Two things hold me back from really going after this. One is that my personal kids are on transfer to a school out of zone. That's because I'm a teacher in the district and logistically need my kids to go to a place that is close by...which just so happens to be an EXCELLENT school in almost every way that is important to me. This is a privilege that I do not take lightly. The second is that The Captain and I are 10,000% Public School People. (I can, and will, write for days on that later.) Public law guarantees our kids the right to a free and appropriate public education...so a smallish part of me feels like I should shut my mouth on the testing issue because maybe it's just a small price to pay for the favor of the government educating my children for free. But is it a small price? I'm not so sure. These are the risks for my family in really speaking out against standardized testing. What I like about this article is that is addresses the fact that, hey, YES, schools can totally prove quality instruction - and better - through methods other than those silly and expensive tests. We are still years out from having to make this decision for our kids, so I'm not saying I'm suiting up for battle or anything...just that I appreciate the dimension this article presents. It's a conversation that needs to freely be on the table for all of us who are involved in public education.