From the Blog

Mathare Valley Slum

Second hand clothing is a major industry in the developing world (for better or for worse). This amazing story reminds me of so many of the 1010 partners in Nairobi.

If your dream was to become a doctor and you ended up uneducated and living in a slum, would you just give up on life? Some of us might have, but not Jane Ngoiri. Jane dreamed of being a surgeon, but she was too poor to finish school or go to college. However, today Jane is a Mitumba queen from Nairobi’s Mathare Valley slum. Mitumba is the business of selling second hand clothing that arrives in Kenya from European and American regions in massive bales.

via AfriGadget » Blog Archive » Dreams can come true – Janes miraculous Mitumba story.

Posted by brianrants at 4:15 pm

God’s extravagant grace was on display this week in New Mexico. Stunning beauty, expansive skies…and some excellent brews.

We felt so blessed to have a Whole Foods around the corner from our casita, and it happens to have the best small selection of brews I’ve ever seen. No fluff, just the good stuff. They had the great beers from CO like New Belgium, and some others I’ve never tried

- Monk’s Ale made a la European monks, but here in NM
- Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout from the UK, which is now my favorite oatmeal stout on terra firma. I can’t decide if it is my favorite stout, as Young’s Double Chocolate Stout is also incredible
- And from a friend’s fridge: Fat Weasel Ale, from Stienhaus Brewing in CA. Almost a sweet ale, slight hoppy finish

In my web design business, we have a great client over in Edinburgh Scotland. Ed and I were talking this morning about the projects, and I threw in some of our normal schpeel about how we will be a good partner for them…help maintain profits on both sides…blah blah blah.

Our Scottish friend who is about the same age thought that was just hilarious, and talked about American sales-speak just “rolls off your tongue.” So in response, I created a conference to help the Scots learn from us smooth Americans.

In business, Scots are known for their medieval style communication. They communicate with grunts, and offer to barter meat and food in exchange for services provided.

eye9 Design is proud to present “SalesSpeak for Scots,” an exciting new way to learn the smooth American style of Sales. Contact us today, and we’ll throw in a free American flag and a hamburger.


A powerful take on a more holistic approach to a culture of life.

Begin forwarded message:

From: “Sojourners” <>
Date: October 13, 2008 9:10:35 AM MDT

Dear Brian,

Tell the Candidates:
Commit to common-ground solutions on abortion reduction. 

What is the meaning of “life”?
For too long abortion was seen as the only “life” issue in our culture and politics, but there is a growing conviction among Christians that poverty, disease, war, the health-care crisis, human trafficking, the death penalty, nuclear weapons, and the worldwide deaths of 30,000 children every day from preventable causes are also key life issues.
In these last few weeks before Election Day, will you join me in raising a new call for “life” to our presidential candidates? 

Sojourners and I have advocated for a holistic and “consistent ethic of life” approach for years, and it is good to see the broader life issues receiving more attention. However, I also believe our nation is ready for a new kind of politics and leadership on the issue of abortion.

The abortion debate has too often been used to score political points, rather than to identify what kinds of church practices and public policies could actually prevent and reduce abortions. But with a tragic 1.2 million abortions a year in the United States,* Christians must work together to stop the politics of blame and work toward common solutions.

If you believe that all human life is sacred, tell the candidates to commit to common-ground solutions on abortion reduction during this week’s debate and for the remainder of their campaigns.

While many Christians disagree on the legal questions surrounding abortion, together we can and must pursue practical steps that actually reduce abortion rates. Three-fourths of women who have an abortion say a primary reason is that they cannot afford to raise a child,* so reducing poverty and supporting low-income women is a good place for our candidates to start.

Recent research affirms that social and economic support for women and vulnerable families are effective solutions to lowering the abortion rate, including greater access to health care, poverty reduction, adoption reform, and pre- and postnatal care.**

Republicans and Democrats must learn to work together on this issue – tell the presidential candidates to lead the way, beginning at this Wednesday’s debate.  We must look forward to the day when both poverty reduction and abortion reduction are nonpartisan issues and bipartisan causes.
Both Senators McCain and Obama have offered themselves as agents of change, anxious to transform the culture in Washington. They could start at Wednesday night’s debate by offering a comprehensive “life” agenda and committing to work with both sides of the political aisle to dramatically reduce abortions in the United States.
Despite their differences over issues of choice, both the Democratic and Republican platforms open up the prospects for serious abortion reduction. And Christians could and should hold both political parties accountable for protecting human dignity and life from “womb to tomb.”
With the final debate Wednesday night, there is still time to ask the candidates to cross old divisions and support life and human dignity.
Sojourners will continue working with both Republicans and Democrats in the next Congress to push for common-ground efforts to reduce the number of abortions in the United States.
Will you join us? Click here to take action today.
In faith,
Jim Wallis
President, Sojourners
P.S. Supporting a consistent life agenda could be led by the church! We strongly urge you to send this message to your friends and family after you e-mail the candidates, especially those who might have different opinions. See if you can agree on expanding the consistency of all the “life” issues, with a real commitment to reducing the number of abortions through common-ground solutions.

*See “Facts on Induced Abortion in the United States” published by the Guttmacher Institute.

**See, for example, “Reducing Abortion in America: The Effect of Economic and Social Supports,” a new study put forward by Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. 

Visit the web address below to tell your friends about this. 

If you received this message from a friend, you can sign up for Sojourners.

To stop receiving Sojourners Action Alerts , click to unsubscribe.

To stop ALL email from Sojourners, click to remove yourself from our lists (or reply via email with “remove” in the subject line).

Here is one of my favorite quotes, first shared with me by Tim Pynes
> "Jesus is asked 183 questions directly in the four Gospels. He only
> answered three of them forthrightly. The others he either ignored,
> kept silent about, asked a question in return, changed the subject,
> told a story or gave an audio/visual aid to make his point, told
> them it was the wrong question, revealed their insincerity or
> hypocrisy, made the exactly opposite point, or redirected the
> question elsewhere!
> Check it out for yourself. He himself asks 307 questions, which
> would seem to set a pattern for imitation. Considering this, it is
> really rather amazing that the church became an official answering
> machine and a very self-assured program for 'sin management'.
> Many, if not most, of Jesus' teaching would never pass contemporary
> orthodoxy tests in either the Roman Office or the Southern Baptist
> Convention. Most of his statements are so open to misinterpretation
> that should he teach today, he would probably be called a
> 'relativist' in almost all areas except one: his insistence upon the
> goodness and reliability of God. That was his only consistent
> absolute."
> Richard Rohr

Posted by brianrants at 5:16 am

You need to read the whole article, but this one line about the now being recruited class of 2008 says it all:

"The class is so deep and talented that the Irish don't have room for highly touted lineman Garrett Goebel of Montini because they already have commitments from five of the best defensive linemen in the country."

Go Irish

My lovely tour of the east coast continues. May try to add some pix later…for now here is some of the fun stuff we are doing.


I had no idea how much history I would discover in Philadelphia. Call it brushing up on American History.

The oldest residential street in America (early 1700′s), the building where the first Continential Congress drafted letters to King George about taxation without representation, cobblestone streets…amazing. I HIGHLY recommend getting the tour in a horse drawn carriage. The drivers know amazing facts about the history of the different buildings.

I also met some lovely beers.

City Tavern: this is where Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and Ben Franklin would put down a cold one after a long day planning the revolution….amazing!
- Thomas Jefferson Ale: a hoppy amber ale…a bit too hoppy for my liking. Enjoyed it nonetheless, especially since this was Tommy Boy’s actual recipe!
- Martha Washington’s Summertime Ale: a very nice, light summertime ale…delicious


The beautiful Block Island, Narragansett beaches, buildings from the 1700′s, New England architecture, seafood…and great time with family.

Rhode Island is like getting out into the country…except it is by the ocean. Very nice.

- Newport Storm: a nice smooth ale…I prefer a little more bite like a Fat Tire, but I would definitely get it again.
- Narragansett Lager: it was nice. Not a huge lager guy, but I would drink this again.
- Dogfish IPA (something like that): man, I can’t stand IPA’s. This was again confirmed.


Experience would tell me that if I hear a slur about Mexicans floating through the air of my local park, it probably was lofted by a white male.

Experience would tell me that if someone died last night in a gang-shooting in Compton, CA, it was probably a young black male.

Experience would tell me that if a school shooting and suicide happened yesterday, it was probably disgruntled white boys.

Experience. Hunches.

Are these the root of prejudice? Racism?

When I walk down Colfax street late at night in Denver, am I more alert to the presence of a homeless man, or a well-dressed urbanite?

This is painful to talk about, because there is prejudice in each of our hearts. A lifetime of side comments, misunderstandings, and lack of open discussion about our differences and similarities in society leaves these blank spots in our knowledge of our fellow Americans.

So this snap judgments, this hunches, are these prejudicial? On some level, I think they might be. But I do not think they form the core of racism, and not all of categorization is ill-intended (those hard nosed Irish-Catholics).

We must go deeper into the belly of racism. There at the core, I believe, is dehuminization. When I look at a man who has tragically chosen a life of crime in inner city Compton, and see “another black gangsta,” I have dehumanized him. When I hear that white man lofting his disrespectful remarks about Hispanics, and see “an ignorant redneck,” I have dehumanized him.

I have categorized him in a way that removes him from me, that makes him dissimilar and separate. In reality, that young black male is my brother, a fellow human. That young disgruntled white youth is tragically deceived, and probably believes that no one gives a sh#$ about his life, so why not take it and a few others at school?

Our cultures vary widely, and with it our values, beliefs, and behaviors. But at the core we are HUMAN. And when I look at someone, be they a success or a failure in the eyes of our society, I should see a brother, a sister.

And when that brother or sister–or myself–makes tragic choices, it is a cause for sadness. For when one of our kind drops, the ripples are felt throughout humanity.

Posted by brianrants at 5:22 am

As I entered the line at the Target checkout counter, I finally put my finger on what is most disturbing about the visual assault of too-perfect scantily clad women popping out from magazine covers.

These magazine show women with flawless figures, glistening with spray on their bared chests, shimmering hair floating from the fans turned up at them, full lips pursed, eyes seductively turned, inviting the wanting stares of passerbys. Surrounding their tiny waists and shapely hips are “Sex tips,” “Instant Sexiness,” “The best sex you’ve ever had,” distracting us from our mundane existence with the exotic and erotic.

Now let me pause to mention that the female body is the most beautiful of God’s creation, with no challenger that is remotely close. And the celebration of that in a respectful way is a beautiful thing.

But the only thing these magazines celebrate is the unholy god of our culture’s sexual lust. A base sexuality, one that uses and discards like an empty pizza box. One that celebrates a woman’s body parts at the expense of her self-esteem, at the cost of her soul.

I do not place blame on them as if they are inherently evil, and we are passive recepients to the message. Rather I see a nation who does not see the components of a healthy psyche. The cost, I fear, is a generation of young girls who increasingly turn to destructive patterns such as eating disorders in a desparate attempt to achieve an unreachable image.

Each of them, to me, is a shrine to an unholy god.