Slavery in America: The Year of Jubilee

The following was originally posted March 29, 2010. It's being reposted here today as part of National Human Trafficking Awareness Month. In 2010, I wrote a series of blogs titled Slavery in America. This particular blog in the series is on worship and jubilee. 

On the way to church this morning, my mom and brother and I talked about how our world would be so different today if we still practiced Jubilee. We talked about how great it would feel to have our debt wiped away and the opportunities we’d be given if only it were still practiced today.

Directly after the service, I ran into a friend of mine who I traveled with to Malawi in the summer of 2008. It had been a few months since we’d run into each other. It was great to see him. He shared with us that he had been in our neck of the woods earlier in the week and had thought of me while nearby. He drew out the night and day differences between the area where I live and the area where we were attending church. He asked me, “Why aren’t we hanging out with the people who live in your neighborhood more?”

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When We Fast

I got sick a week or so ago, and it was awesome.  The reason is that when I get sick, I don’t go to work, don’t do errands, and I don’t do chores – I rest and recover.  My method of recovery when sick often justifies hours of catching up on TV shows, or enjoying my XBOX – guilt free.  I mean, what else can I do when my choices are sit on the couch or lay in the bed…lest I infect everyone around me and wear my body down further?

This particular round of sick had me bingeing on a certain crime drama TV show that was taught, tense, and filled with great cliffhangers every step of the way.  The kind of stuff I can’t look away from.  And, it all served its purpose – I didn’t have to focus on my sore throat, my rising and lowering temperature, and the loss of hearing that comes from my body’s production of mucus that seems trapped between my ears.  I was able to distract myself from those pesky symptoms.  As long as the TV was on, everything else was off.

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Ramadan: Deny Yourself

Years ago I worked with a woman who fasted for one month out of the year. I didn't understand then, why, when our lunch break would come, she would drink a juice or water while I stuffed my face with that days craving. Now I know she was a practicing Muslim keeping Ramadan, the annual month long fast.

Ramadan is August 1 - August 30th. Thirty days of prayer for the Muslim World is a Christian international web based organization that encourages Christians around the world to pray specifically for Muslims to come to know Christ during the 30 day fast. 

Click here to see the 30-days of prayer August 1st prayer guide. 

Nataka is a Muslim woman who I spent a few hours with at her mosque in Cambridge, MA. I stumbled into the Mosque, unannounced and hoping to ask someone there what objections the Muslim faith has to Christianity. At the time, I was taking a class on Islam that helped prepare me for what answers I might hear. I didn't plan for this to happen, but as I was arriving so were a lot of taxis. Taxi drivers got out of their cars and began to greet one another and laugh together as they entered the mosque. I looked at the time and duh; it was time for the noon prayer that day. A little unsure of how I would be treated upon walking up to the main door unannounced and with my frizzy hair flowing down and exposed. It was the Imam who first welcomed me inside. After slipping my shoes off, he directed me to a staircase where a young woman, Nataka, was waiting to greet me.

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Why I’m Drinking Only Water for 31 Days

A lot of people start off the new year with a cleanse or fast or some sort – you know, to flush out the excess of the holidays and to start a new year refreshed and renewed physically and emotionally.

Personally, I’m not a fan.

I hate fasting (not that anyone loves it), and you won’t catch me with a colon-cleansing product on this side of the century.

With that said, I approached the new year’s fasting season with a fresh idea … at least for me. Instead of just going without, I’m going without so I can give.

As an editor, I have read a lot about social justice organizations that focus on giving access to clean water to developing countries. I’ve heard that it only takes a dollar to provide this clean water – the most basic necessity of human survival – to one person for an entire year. The problem? There are a billion people who need it, and many of those live on less than a dollar a day.

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Social Justice is Sexy

Earlier this year, the students working in my office had agreat conversation after a “spoken word” event.  This student, Bethany, brought to light what many of herpeers had been talking about:  It’s very “in” right now to like social justice.  This term is thrown around so much we have lost it’s very meaning.  It is the new “sexy.”  A person can easily go out in their Tom’s shoes, carrying their Whole Foods reusable bags, and buy organic fair trade coffee.  They might even jump back into their hybrid car and go home to their eco-friendly appliances and watch a documentary on what is happening with the AIDS in Africa and then donate money to that cause.  Those are great starts and definitely good things!

This past week Mia Farrow went on the Larry King show to talk about her “hunger strike” for 40 days to bring attention to the Sudan crisis.

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