Archive for the ‘Peace’ Category

Tamale Cooking Class!

Posted: November 15, 2011 in Family and Friends, Justice, Peace

Tamale Making Class

The link above is to a flyer about a unique opportunity coming up the week after Thanksgiving. Our new friends, Carmen and Patricia, are teaching an authentic tamale cooking class (where we also get to learn/practice Spanish!). Our good friend, Cindy Short, is making this happen, and you should contact Cindy directly if you want to sign up for the class (as explained on the flyer).

We recently hosted Carmen (from Peru) and Patricia (from Mexico) in our home for a similar class, and it was fantastic. We got to know these ladies through spending time at the Malibu Community Labor Exchange, where lots of interesting people hang out. Anyway, the idea of the tamale class emerged from that first class, but because it was anticipated that this one will be much bigger, Cindy secured the Malibu United Methodist Church as a venue for the event.

Please feel free to (a) attend yourself; (b) tell your friends about it; and/or (c) print off the flyer and post it at your work or school.


Posted: October 27, 2011 in Family and Friends, Justice, Lessons, Peace

A Better Life

Posted: October 13, 2011 in Justice, Peace


The hyperlink above is to a movie poster that I am super excited about!

Everyone is invited to a free movie screening on Thursday, October 20, at 7pm on the campus of Pepperdine University. The movie will be awesome, as will the panel discussion afterward featuring Judge Bruce Einhorn from Pepperdine Law and Oscar Mondragon from the Malibu Community Labor Exchange. Also, and importantly, everyone is invited to a reception before the movie (at 6pm) that will serve as a fundraiser for our work at the Labor Exchange. Tickets for the reception are advertised at $50 and up, but for those that can’t afford a $50 ticket, smaller donations will also be accepted.

1) Post a link to this blog post on your Facebook wall;
2) Email the movie poster by attachment to your friends;
3) Print the movie poster and post it in your school or office.

Thank you for your support!!!

Integrity & Moral Cautiousness

Posted: October 2, 2010 in Lessons, Peace

One of the more intriguing course titles in my law school career is my current “Law & Morality” class. This seminar is taught by the highly-esteemed visiting professor, Ellen Pryor. Professor Pryor has showered us with interesting readings throughout the semester. Recently, we read large chunks of Sissela Bok’s classic book, “Lying.” Me, the smart aleck, thought it would be great fun to go out to some public place to read this book, and when an astute observer would undoubtedly ask why I was reading a book on lying, I would respond, “Oh, it’s for law school.” 🙂 My follow-up line would be, “I took Cheating last semester, and Stealing is on tap next.”

This week, we’re reading Stephen Carter’s excellent book, “Integrity.” Which, if nothing else, is better PR for the legal profession should I choose to read it in public. But there was one passage that really struck me as profound, so I thought I would share it with the world via blogging/Facebook. As one who has from time to time been accused of moral relativism, this passage really resonates with me.

Your comments would be interesting and welcomed, but honestly, my motivation in sharing this is to provoke reflection more than to inspire conversation. Here goes (from pages 59-61):

“. . . we Americans do public dialogue badly. I suspect that the principal psychological difficulty that frustrates our national efforts to conduct public moral dialogues is not, as is sometimes asserted, that nobody believes that there are right answers to our moral dilemmas; no, the American problem is that we all believe that our own answers are the right ones. In this sense, we are a land not of moral relativists, as is often charged, but of moral objectivists: people who believe that there are universal, moral truths. Our necessary if sometimes uncomfortable celebration of moral tolerance is a mark not of our relativism but of our objectivism; having learned the lessons of history, we are trying in America to be morally cautious. It is not that there are no right answers, but that, given human fallibility, we need to be careful in assuming that we have found them. This point was made famously by John Stuart Mill, and today the very variety of moral truths in which different Americans wholeheartedly believe is proof of the wisdom of tolerance. Tolerance is the reason that the most liberal Americans must accept hateful speech and the most conservative Americans must accept homosexuality. It is not that nobody could hold the view that one or the other is morally wrong; it is rather that history has taught us to be careful about enforcing our moral views as law.”

I Hear It Was Charged Against Me

Posted: September 25, 2010 in Peace

I Hear It Was Charged Against Me

I hear it was charged against me that I sought to destroy institutions,
But really I am neither for nor against institutions,
(What indeed have I in common with them? or what with the destruction of them?)
Only I will establish in the Mannahatta and in every city of these States inland and seaboard,
And in the fields and woods, and above every keel little or large that dents the water,
Without edifices or rules or trustees or any argument,
The institution of the dear love of comrades.

– Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass (1900)

Joined at the Prosthetic Hip

Posted: September 4, 2010 in Peace

ESPN did a nice piece about an unlikely friendship between an elderly man named Boston Bill and a young boy named Jake, brought together by a funny word called “fate” and the shared challenge of living life with just one leg. The challenge hasn’t slowed down Boston Bill one bit, and the heartwarming part of the story is how he is teaching young Jake to follow in his, yes, foot-steps.

For your sake, you should probably read the story (and/or watch the video) HERE before continuing with my meandering thoughts.

It seems like most are primarily attracted to the “fate” part of the story, which is admittedly pretty cool, but that’s not what I find most striking. Instead, what gets me is that the chasm between these two people—a chasm brought on by age and simple geography—has been bridged by a common “weakness.” Oh, I know that chasms are constantly being bridged by folks finding commonalities with one another, but I am intrigued by the idea of being joined at the weak spots.

There is great danger in forming friendships at the weak spots. Such a bond can easily become an exclusive club dedicated to either hatred of others or the throwing of pity parties. But I think it carries unique possibilities, too.

I perceive intimacy as something that, once achieved and maintained, is considered a good thing to share with another human being. And what does intimacy involve, if not the sharing of weakness with another? Isn’t vulnerability a prerequisite for achieving true intimacy?

Jake and Boston Bill are unique in that their perceived “weakness” is on display for the world to see. Most of ours are not, and we work awfully hard to keep it that way. As a result, we travel through life looking to connect to people that are either (a) what we wish we were, or (b) like the parts we present to the public. I wonder what kind of relationships we could have if we connected first in the weak spots.

Again, doing so is dangerous. It could easily be a path toward resentment or depression, if not both. But. If infected with the hope of Boston Bill, it could just as easily be a path toward a world far better than the one we inhabit at present—a world where we don’t have to hide so much, and a world where we don’t have to feel lonely in crowds anymore.

Just a thought.

That’s Just Me

Posted: July 10, 2010 in Peace

I never was known as a nasty sinner, but that’s generally because I’m too big of a chicken to do most of the things that garner such a reputation. The nasty sinner in me has always been contained on the inside. I suspect some people think this makes me better than those who misbehave in more prominent ways. But I know better.

I find the phrase “there, but for the grace of God, goes I” to be a condescending load of you know what. My thought is “there I go,” grace of God notwithstanding.

So I have a hard time despising people. I just do. And the reason isn’t that difficult to comprehend: it’s because I find a part of me in just about everyone.

This world of ours enjoys dividing itself up into neat little camps: liberals and conservatives, legals and illegals, citizen and foreigner, black and white, gay and straight, christian and non-christian, rich and poor, educated and uneducated, blue collar and white collar, single and married, married and divorced, criminal and non-criminal, addicts and clean/sober. And many, many more.

I could fill out this checklist and figure out which side describes me the best, but I have a hard time buying the t-shirt for any of them.

To be brutally honest, in many ways, I am a lonely guy. And I think I know why. It’s because each camp seems to want its members to look down on the “other” camp. Some do this blatantly with a mean spirit. Others do it much more innocently under the banner of patriotism or group pride or—maybe most deceptive of all—pity.

But I just can’t. And though that allows me the freedom to befriend absolutely everyone on the planet, it also means I am never allowed to fully fit in.

But that’s okay with me. I actually prefer it to any alternative.

A Theory of Devolution

Posted: July 3, 2010 in Lessons, Peace

In the beginning, a man was attacked by someone more powerful than he.
So he started carrying around a great big stick.

Then someone else got an even bigger stick.
So he gave his weapon a sharp point.

Then someone else made theirs with an iron tip.
So he made a bow to shoot his enemy from a distance.

Then someone else created a gun.
So he made a cannon.

Then someone else made a bomb.
So he made a land mine.

Then someone else began dropping their bombs from airplanes.
So he created a nuclear weapon that could vaporize an entire city.

Then someone else made a missile that could destroy a city from half a world away.
So he made a system that could destroy everyone else’s missiles after they’d been launched while stockpiling an arsenal of nuclear weaponry that could destroy the planet multiple times over.

Game over.

But then, someone else flew some airplanes into some buildings, and hidden people began to manufacture biological weapons so that one person can destroy an entire nation no matter how many weapons it has.

Finally, someone asked: “Is there something wrong with this entire game?”
And everyone attacked the questioner.

So the questioner died.
But his question didn’t.

Winning, Jesus-Style

Posted: June 27, 2010 in Justice, Lessons, Peace

I like to win. Always have. Sports. Grades. Board games. Philosophical debates. Didn’t really matter what it was, I always wanted to win. In addition, true to character, I avoided things if I didn’t think I’d be good at them. Always have. You know why.

Taking Jesus seriously has always been somewhat problematic for me, what with his “turn the cheek” and “love your enemies” language, not to mention the whole “first will be last” shocker. Not really “winner” language if you ask me. Undeterred, I found comfort growing up with being told that our type of church was better than everyone else’s. That’s winner material. Further, the whole “heaven” concept was a sweet addition: “ultimate triumph” was a thought right up my alley.

But the actual language of Jesus was always there, and over time, I started facing it. And it threw me for a loop. In fact, as a young high school basketball coach, it was partially responsible for my first career change. When you begin thinking that winning is overrated, it sort of deflates one’s idea behind that particular career path. It messes with a lot of other things besides sports, too: academic accomplishment, patriotism, and yes, even religion. Maybe especially religion. The story of the Rich Young Ruler is practically inexplicable for winners.

Thankfully, for my personal sanity, my understanding of Jesus continued to evolve. A big breakthrough came when I understood that Jesus wasn’t a pushover, nor did he instruct his followers to be pushovers. (I credit Walter Wink with much of this personal breakthrough – check it out HERE.) Jesus doesn’t advocate being a loser; instead, he holds forth a very different conception of a winner.

I think I’m writing in an attempt to articulate what a “win” looks like Jesus-style. And to put it bluntly, I think it looks like this: when people learn to love and respect one another in spite of all the legitimate reasons not to.

Yeah, that’s what I think.

With that in mind, turning the other cheek and loving your enemies and the first will be last all make a heckuva lot more sense. In fact, the whole first will be last lesson is predicated on the desire to be a winner (“whomever among you wants to be great…”).

I don’t think the competitive nature of this world is wrong in and of itself. I am (at least, once again) all for non-violent competition (e.g. sports, business, politics, law, debate). It’s just that the definition of what it means to win is generally screwy in my humble opinion.

Take sports, for example. You see, I could be a basketball coach again. Now, however, while doing our very best to win the game on a scoreboard (the whole point of the sport), my ultimate (and countercultural) goal would be to learn to love and respect my team, the officiating crew, and our opponents. That’s what it really means to win.

Remember the recent story of umpire Jim Joyce and the destroyed perfect game of pitcher Armando Galarraga. Sports reporters used words like “sportsmanship” and “class” and phrases like “taking the high road” to describe what happened after the game (see HERE). I call it a win, Jesus-style.

I wish to God those of us who claim to follow Jesus would learn this lesson when we talk politics, but that’s another article for another day.

My latest challenge is to be a lawyer. I am set to enter a profession that is built on competition—winners and losers in an openly adversarial system. My challenge is to do my very best to win the case for my client, but my ultimate (and countercultural) goal will be to love and respect my client, my adversary, and everyone in between.

And I plan to do it, too.

Because you know me: I like to win.

Brothers & Sisters

Posted: June 7, 2010 in Peace

I thought I had such a profound thought a while back when I concluded that Jesus taught his followers to see humanity in one of two ways–either as family, or as neighbors. Thought that was worth remembering.

But a couple of weeks ago a visiting preacher cited the legendary Marshall Keeble (legendary in Church of Christ circles). He said that Keeble used to call everyone “brother so-and-so” or “sister-so-and-so.” When asked why he called everyone by a familial name, his response was, “If I miss ’em in Jesus, I’ll catch ’em in Adam.” In other words, we are ALL related one way or another.

So I stand corrected. And as I stand corrected, with a new way to view all of humanity, I stand imagining how it would change the way we see (and talk about) others if we really took that perspective to heart.