Newest update from Give A Damn? team

September is here, and we are nowhere near where we imagined we would be at this time.  We had this vision that we would obtain a producer that wanted to fund the entire project (which is still a real possibility) and that we would be in Africa in just a few days, but life never turns out as you plan. Not to say that all is bad or that we are failing.  Quite the opposite, good things are happening all the time. Just recently Paul Rusesabagina notified us that he wanted to be involved with our project, so we will be interviewing him when he visits St. Louis in November.  Mr. Rusesabagina is the man the movie Hotel Rwanda is based on, and he is an internationally known speaker.  We feel so privileged to be securing these interviews that were once just a dream.  Also, we have been offered a contract by a literary agent who is working on a book deal for us.  News like this comes in nearly every week these days.

However, we are realizing that our eyes need to be set on our trip to Africa. The interviews we are securing are powerful. Our interviews with Invisible Children, SOLD, Falling Whistles, and Richard Carrier taught us so much, and we still hope to have interviews with many other key leaders in the fight against poverty.  All these interviews will play an important role in either the feature length documentary or the educational DVD we will put out after the film.

However, what sets Give A Damn? apart is the idea that we are going to live in extreme poverty ourselves. Today's youth are amused by the lighthearted entertainment routinely found on YouTube and the display of real people enduring extreme circumstances seen in reality shows such as Jackass, so that is what we are going to give them. Our film is going to be funny and random, and we are surely going to be in extreme circumstances as we travel across Africa surviving on only one dollar a day. Doing all this in the hopes that we can tell a compelling story that will reach young people where they are at, hopefully leading them to make fighting poverty a priority in their lives, helping turn apathy into action. To do that, we are now honing in on raising the funds we will need to get to Africa and make this key part of the film.

For this reason, we are postponing our trip to D.C. and the South. We had great interviews scheduled with G-I Net, the World Bank, and several other organizations, but we will do those after we shoot the key part of the film, the Africa  $1 a day portion. We don't have the money to spend on these trips right now, so we will be staying here in St. Louis to focus on fundraising specifically for Africa. We are able to focus on Africa because from the money we have raised so far, over $9000, we were able to buy enough equipment to pull this project off, pay our office rent, and are other expenses thus far. We just recently bought our HD camera and most of our essential audio equipment (picture included.) So that is more good news...things are moving along.

On Oct. 14th, David Peterka and I are scheduled to speak at a conference on economic justice here in St. Louis at Manchester United Methodist Church in Manchester (flyer attached) and hopefully we will be able to raise money there. In the presentation, we are attempting to answer the questions: Will the next generation make a difference in the injustice in this world and what works in trying to turn young people's apathy into action. As you can guess, Give A Damn? will be one of the main things we push in this presentation. Other speaking engagements have also opened up around town, and we hope to use these presentations as a catalyst for fundraising and spreading the movement. If you feel lead to do a fundraiser or host a speaking engagement for Give A Damn? in your community, please contact us.  That would be infinitely encouraging for us and we would love to work with you on this.

For the next two weeks, David and I will be focusing on this presentation by reading, watching films, and praying in the hopes that we will be inspired. This means that you might not hear much from us the next couple of weeks, but we believe we will come back even stronger, rested, and inspired. This will be the first week I have taken off from Give A Damn? in 2008, so I am looking forward to it. Rob is also taking a break for the next week, so expect a little bit of silence from our end. Still feel free to send email, we will still be checking it every couple of days or so.

Also, we just want to quickly say thanks to everyone for your support. I want to specifically thank all those who have given so much of their time for little or no money. I want to thank John Choura, Julie VanMater and Kevin Bracket for their graphic and web design work over this past year. I want to thank Kyle Montgomery, Doug Parris, the Heykoop's, the Peterka's, Chesterfield Presbyterian Church, Pete Weitzel, Conversantlife, Rock for Justice, all our amazing friends here in St. Louis, and all those who gave us an interview, those  who housed us, and those who assisted during our California tour. Also, thank you to everyone who has either donated cash or stuff for us to sell on ebay.  Your gifts have gone a long way.
"Never doubt that a small, group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."- Margaret Mead  

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Wasilla, 90210, and Northern Exposure

 I intended to watch the entire Republican Party convention. But CNN’s constant cutaway’s separated me from sections I wanted to see, like the inspiring story of Bridget McCain’s adoption from one of Mother Teresa’s orphanages in Bangladesh. It seemed particularly relevant since Karl Rove used a whisper campaign about Bridget being McCain’s ‘black love child’ to swing the South Carolina primary toward George W. Bush back in the 2000 presidential contest. Bridget evidently found out about such political dirty tricks through a Google search. Pity the children of any politician dragged through the media wringer.   Unfortunately, the saga of Bristol Palin and her baby has barely begun.

Bored by Fred Thompson,  I switched over to the CW for the revival of the nighttime soap opera, 90210.

Political Glossary #1

After writing it, I decided to not publish my blog about my son-in-law's deployment to Iraq.

Experience has taught me that our culture – and especially church culture -- no longer tolerates nuanced opinion. The prevailing belief is that one is either on the "right" or the "left", and that all subcategories of thought, emotion and opinion assigned to those two broad labels naturally attach to one of these polar positions. Thus, we tend to select the media outlets most favorable to our stated position, form our friendships, alliances and even our churches according to how they revolve around one of these labels. We also tend to consider or dismiss issues and ideas according to how they seem to support or threaten our social and political identity.

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Tags | Politics

Man on the Street Interviews: St.Louis

We have already done 'Man on the Street' interviews in 5 cities: Springfield and St. Louis, MO as well as San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. We thought we would show some of what we got from our St. Louis interviews. I find some of the interviewees responses very thought provoking while others seem to be rather simple. 3 of the most probing responses for me were...

Five Things to Watch for at the DNC

Chatting about expectations is a political junky’s game. Looking for a fix of actual news at the Convention, you will hear many things about the Democratic National Convention (DNC) most of which will turn out to be false in retrospect. For sane voters—most of whom will watch the Biden and Obama speeches and little else—the substance and the abiding visuals of the Convention are what will matter most.

There are five things to look for at the DNC (and just after) which will tell you whether the Convention was a success.

First, follow the Clinton money after the convention.

The idiotic spin that the Convention is about unity is setting a bar so low that the DNC cannot fail. The Clinton machine cannot afford to look like they killed Senator Obama. They will back him with loud words. This will be viewed as “success.” You could get rich if a friend would give you a dollar for every time a podium speaker says “this party is united.”
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Just How Big is Our World?

 “I need to get going. I have a lot of people to serve.” –God, played by Morgan Freeman in Evan Almighty.


I love that movie! So its not a real account of the flood story in Gen 6-9 and the Ark of scripture doesn’t exactly end up on Capitol Hill, but, the movie is a great reminder of the faith that is required of us, no matter how insane we might feel about it.


While the Evan Almighty version focuses on an affluent, suburb of Washington D.C., we know that in the story of the flood in scripture, the setting is the entire world.


I think it’s important that no matter where we live, we are aware of just how big our world really is. I believe that Christianity has always been global. The Israelites were the minority called to serve the majority and I don’t things have changed for us today. God always had the whole world in mind throughout all of scripture and history. I believe we are to be global Christians always.

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Tags | Global

The inconsistency of it all…

This election year, more than any since the days of Jimmy Carter, people of faith are divided and undecided regarding their vote.  The marriage between Republicans and Evangelicals has been annulled.  There are many reasons for this, including some large theological shifts in the emerging church (which I’ll hope to address later), and a sense of betrayal on the part many who feel that the promises of limited government and ‘compassionate conservatism’ turned out to be hollow words, as expansive executive powers, spiraling national debt, curtailing of health care benefits to children, and unilateral military actions became the voice that drowned out campaign promises.  

As each of us pray, ponder, and share together regarding the vitally important subject of how our faith intersects with both our politics and our nationalism, we should be wary of presumptions that any party is wholly ‘consistent’ or wholly ‘Christian’.  For now, let’s consider the consistency piece for a moment:
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Five Small Adjustments Toward Faithful Ecological Stewardship

In my last post, I shared some thoughts on the biblical mandate for faith ecological stewardship. But for someone who has simply not thought much about environmental responsibility, where do we begin?

Here are five small steps toward a more ecologically sound lifestyle:

1. REDUCE. "Paper or Plastic?" Neither! Start carrying cloth bags to the grocery store instead of having the cashier bag your items in paper or plastic. This is one way to reduce your post-consumer waste (and how many of those flimsy plastic bags are actually reusable, anyway? They usually come home with holes in the bottom!) Plus, some stores offer a small discount for bringing your own bags.

2. REUSE. OK, so say you forget the cloth bags every now and then, and you end up with a "bag of bags" in your kitchen pantry. Find other ways to use them! For example, I use them to pick up after my dog (a must when you are a dog-owner in an urban setting!), line my kitchen and bathroom trash cans, and carry lunch to work. I know a woman who uses them as shower caps, and another friend makes bags from those plastic shopping bags. Get creative!

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Five Things to Like about Senator Obama

...Even If You Are Not Voting For Him

The weirdest of political creatures is the sad soul who cannot fight hard, but then go have a beer with his political opponent. Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neil, then the Speaker of the House, were happy to share jokes after jousting with each other over public policy.

If Senator Obama needs my vote to win, he is in trouble. I don’t think he is qualified to be president and do not agree with him on most of the major issues, but that does not mean I have to dislike the guy. Following the Reagan-O’Neil example, here are five likable things about Senator Obama even if you are not going to vote for him.

Senator Obama is an outstanding speaker. If we have to listen to the fellow for four years, at least it will be easy to do. He speaks in paragraphs and not just sound bites. At his best he is a better orator than we have seen since Reagan.
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Christians Have the Best Reasons to Be Environmentalists

I've heard from several people recently mortifying accounts of Christians not only neglecting environmental concerns, but actually attacking other Christians for speaking out in favor of making environmentalism a priority.

A truly God-centered worldview demands responsible stewardship of the earth's resources. Consider the following reasons:

Reason #1 - God created the earth and everything else, (Genesis 1-2). That's reason enough to respect creation and treat it with care.

Reason #2 - God entrusted responsibility for its care to humanity (Genesis 1-2)

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