Paris, France

"This shirt makes me look like I am with child," she said.

"What?" I replied.

"No, seriously, what do you think? Does this shirt make me look pregnant?"

I said nothing. I am a guy and this is a friend of mine who is not only the main reason I am standing in Paris, France, but she's not a guy....therefore, she's a woman....therefore, I don't answer questions related to pregnancy from women.

"Oh, you're afraid to answer...."

I nod.

"Chicken. Froussard?"

"Ok, it kind of makes you look bloated."

"What! Are you serious? What do you mean by bloated?"

"This is why I don't answer these types of questions."

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Why Students Should Still Study Abroad

 

Why Students Should Still Study Abroad

Since the academic year started, both beheadings from militant groups and the coverage of Ebola have gone viral. This week, shootings in Paris covered the airwaves. Concerned parents want to know if their son or daughter will get a disease or if life outside the United States is safe. Judging solely by the cable news outlets, one would remain almost paranoid as one crisis after another seems to get around-the-clock coverage.

 

Yet, nearly 300,000 U.S. students will study abroad in a given year and that is still a good thing. And yes, students should still consider study abroad and there are many reasons, but let me briefly explore three of them.

Wichita, Kansas

In 2011, my wife and I attended a conference in Wichita, Kansas, on the campus of Friends University. Part of the draw was to learn from men like Scot McKnight and Dallas Willard. The latter is perhaps as well known for his books as for his influence as a person. But, it's the latter that sticks out as we begin a new year. Why?

Because even a few years later, I remember the respect he received, the calm, quiet demeanor Dr. Willard conducted himself with and the wisdom he shared. I recall his discussion the vision, intention, and means outline (VIM) to spiritual life on a daily basis. Yet, for a brief time, in a weekend in Wichita, I remember that Dr. Willard was a peaceful, quiet man who seemed to embody well what has always bugged me about Jesus. It's actually possible to be busy, but not in a hurry.

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Barcelona, Spain

When I arrived at my hotel in Spain a few weeks back, I immediately was blasted with a wall of cigarette smell. So, I looked at my paperwork to find the phrase 'non-smoking' room (which I did) and then I paused and wondered whether or not I would switch rooms. 

I asked the nice lady at the desk if there's anything that could be done about the giant ashtray I was assigned to sleep in and she said that they'd work on it. I thanked her and then went to my scheduled business meetings. When I returned, my room smelled like a perfume bottle exploded and the windows were all open. I had to smile.

And then I promptly went downstairs to the desk to thank the nice lady and her staff. And therein lies the cultural moment that if you're someone who travels, feel free to take note. Saying 'thanks' in a sincere way truly does translate in to other cultures and languages.

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Eric Garner and the Call for Justice

The following transcript is from a conversation with Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. You can also listen to the audio interview conducted by Phillip Bethancourt. The issue at hand is how to help churches navigate the types of controversy that’s going on in the wake of the decision of the Grand Jury in New York City to not indict an officer in the choking death of Eric Garner. Dr. Moore was asked  and what it means for racial reconciliation in our culture and in particular, the church. 

Russell Moore: Well, I've said quite a few times that when it comes to the Ferguson decision you have a lot of white people, particularly, who look at it only in terms of Ferguson itself. And they're saying, and they're right, that we don't know exactly what happened between Michael Brown and this police officer. We don't know exactly what happened between Michael Brown and this police officer. We don't know exactly what this altercation was about. 

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Rantoul, Illinois

Ok, it's been a while and you can track my progress at www.bomwhite.com

With that said, here's the new focus on this site and let's call it 'Stories can Walk'....I am asking you to journey with me to simply pay attention and find one thing in each of your own travels to hang on to. One thing. Don't try to remember everything, recount every detail of your travels, but just one thing to remember each new city, each new neighborhood. So, here goes:

Rantoul, Illinois, is less than an hour from where I live. It's a declining city in some respects, a victim of higher than normal unemployment and the closing of some factories. It's also home to the Chanute Air Force Base or the Chanute Air Museum, which is on the campus that was formerly an active air force base. Having helped with my daughter's recent field trip there my goal was to pay attention. I have recently been to Spain, Wales, England, and Ireland on work related trips and also returned from Chicago and Boston within the last few weeks, but none of the aforementioned sites moved me to tears. But, something at Chanute did.

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Did God Curse Africans Into Slavery?

The sons of Noah who came out of the boat with their father were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Ham is the father of Canaan.) From these three sons of Noah came all the people who now populate the earth…Ham, the father of Canaan, saw that his father [Noah] was naked and went outside and told his brothers…When Noah woke up from his stupor, he learned what Ham, his youngest son, had done. Then he cursed Canaan, the son of Ham. “May Canaan be cursed! May he be the lowest servants to his relatives” (Genesis 9:18,22,24-25).

Since the descendants of Ham settled in Africa, haven’t some people claimed that this Scripture shows that God cursed the African people into slavery?

It is true that for many years there were those who claimed God cursed the descendants of Ham, Noah’s son, for telling his older brothers he found his father naked after a night of drinking wine. The curse was that “he be the lowest of servants to his relatives” (Genesis 9:25). And since the descendants of Ham were thought to be Africans, it was logical to conclude that God had condemned all generations of Africans into slavery. In fact, many people during the 1700s and 1800s and beyond used those verses to justify the enslavement of Africans in America.

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The Haunt of History

History is a tricky thing. We’re supposed to recall and remember what happened in the past so we can learn from it. In our individual lives, history is a valued tutor, teaching us in a rear view mirror how to do better in the future.

Learning from history can take many forms. My father used to tell me, “Learn from the mistakes of others because you’ll never live long enough to make them all yourself.” That’s good advice, although there are also good things in our past we can learn from. For example, I learned long ago that I like chocolate chip cookies, and I’ve done my best to repeat that habit as often as possible.

Of course, we tend to forget what happened before, whether it was minutes ago—how often have you touched a hot plate in a restaurant right after the server warned you of its searing heat—or years ago. I don’t know why we forget important information, except that we believe we’re smarter than people who made mistakes in the past. 

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What is God's Plan for Justice?

At 6,000 feet high, seated in a single engine Cessna next to my husband at the controls, my mind ran a marathon of thoughts about what it means to be concerned with what concerns the ones I love. As we flew along the beautiful coast line of California, making our way from the sandy beaches of Orange County to the coastal cliffs, rolling hills and mountains of Big Sur, I realized that I would have never agreed to sit in a teeny-tiny airplane for those 3 hours if it wasn’t my husband doing the flying.

Before I met my husband, I couldn’t tell you the difference between planes other than some are big and some are small; some are painted cool colors and designs and some not so much.

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