Wednesday, September 26, 2007
A New Generation of Untouchables
By Mark Earley 9/26/2007
Jena and the Justice System
Note: This commentary was delivered by PFM President Mark Earley.
The case of the Jena 6 has forced us to ask once again if our justice system is color blind in America. Thousands gathered in that small town on September 20 because they are convinced that African-Americans are unfairly treated in the criminal justice system.
To be honest, it’s hard to discern right now exactly what happened in Jena. But don’t miss the point here: It is not hard to discern the incredibly disproportionate rate of African-Americans behind bars in America.
The thousands who converged on Jena were most outraged at the prosecutor’s decision to charge six African-American kids with attempted murder in connection with a beating of a white student. In their opinion, the fact that the victim left the hospital after two hours proved that the charges were excessive.
Those suspicions were reinforced by reports that the prosecutor had previously told other African-American students that he “could end [their] lives with the stroke of a pen.”
For many African-Americans, this is not an idle threat—it is reality. Although only 13 percent of the population, African-Americans make up nearly half of our prison population. The incarceration rate for Blacks is nearly six times that of Whites. As social scientist Glenn Loury points out, “a black male resident of the state of California is more likely to go to a state prison than a state college.”
And this disparity is not limited to, or even greatest in, the South: The disparities in Iowa and New Jersey, for example, are nearly three times greater than in Louisiana.
What drives much of this disparity is the War on Drugs: In 1975, Blacks were twice as likely as Whites to be arrested for drug offenses—by 1989, four times as likely. Yet there is no evidence that Blacks are more likely than Whites to use illegal drugs—in fact, the opposite is true.
These differences and other factors are having a devastating effect in the African-American community in ways that many outside that community do not begin to comprehend. It is devastating an entire generation of families. If the present trends continue, for every Black male born today, one out of three will be behind bars in their lifetime.
As criminologist Jeffrey Fagan and his colleagues put it, “the declining economic fortunes of former inmates [creates] . . . strains on families of prisoners that weaken the family’s ability to supervise children . . . ” As Loury put it, these children are then “likely to join a new generation of untouchables” and perpetuate the tragic cycle.
This impact and the disparities that cause it are issues that should concern every Christian. Not simply because it is unjust that one group of people should be punished in such a disproportionate manner—that’s bad enough—but it should also concern us because it undermines confidence in the rule of law. It makes it easier for people to suspect the worst in places like Jena.
The Christian author Philip Yancey recently said it is easy to quote Amos—let justice roll down like a mighty river. It is much harder to build an irrigation system. Nevertheless, the hard work of justice in America is something that every Christian, Black and White, should tackle together.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
This was written a while ago but just as I was going to post it, our computer wigged out and we came face to face with the "Blue Screen of Death." Needless to say, we're just getting back online after a dear friend and fellow care groupie gave us an extra CPU he had. (Praise God!)
We've passed the SIX MONTHS marker (September 1st)! How time is flying by! Well, we're hoping the next six months of our lives will be a bit less active... but it's looking like that won't be happening for a bit.
Here's a quick update for you all...
~ William is thinking about beginning his own lawn care business. (That, too, is a joke!) He is no longer getting whipped by the weeds and grass and trees. He's doing just what God intended and is breaking the land and fruit is a comin'. He is looking forward to the last day of having to cut, rake and bag. But then he'll have to focus on shoveling - and we got a lot to shovel!
~ Kadin started crawling at ~6.5 months and is now really crawling EVERYWHERE. He can even pull himself up to standing and is beginning to "cruise." Little dude is tough and STRONG. We're thinking about calling him Heman. Thoughts? Does that fit him? Oh- and he got 2 blades, um... I mean teeth in August as well. And in case you haven't heard, his earwax is quite stinky. Who knew earwax could smell so bad. I thought it was an ear infection but the doctor assured me it's just a foul odor. I guess that's good?!?! He continues to be such a "good baby" (that term kinda annoys me though We were out ALL day on Saturday and little dude was absolutely pleasant! His eyes light up when he smiles and he does that weird wrist thing like Joshua did when he was little. Oh- I love it! Even when I have to get up in the middle of the night multiple times, it is worth it because he is worth it! And I sure see how quick these days go. I don't want to forget how precious it is holding him. Oh- and I decided to give him a haircut! I'll have to post pics later!
Saraina got her first (and possibly last!) "trim" from Mommy. Look, if you didn't know, I hate hair. While I think her hair is beautiful and fits her, it is work to maintain. And I don't like it. So I called myself trimming her hair a couple of weeks ago. There was no rhyme or reason to my strategy but it doesn't look horrible. In fact, it is a bit easier to manage now. Aside from that she is my "strong-willed" child. The girl is terribly defiant and stubborn. But she WILL be broken! Yes, out of love she WILL learn to obey right away, all the way, and with a happy heart! (You can contribute to the Kia-needs-Tylenol Fund at any point.) All that said, I adore my little ladybug! Those dark, piercing eyes along with her beautifully expressive smile bring this mama MUCH joy, especially when she says, "I sorry Mama. Pease forgive me!" I think I understand a bit more how the Lord must feel when we come to Him, confessing and asking for forgiveness.
(No picture of Saraina b/c we're still having to transfer files to this computer.)
Finally, our Little Man Joshua no longer likes to be called "Little Man." He likes being called "Big Boy" instead. He continues being a good big brother but has shown his deceptive side. Oh yes. The boy loves to pick up an undesireable toy and say, "Here Sissy!" as he swipes the toy she HAD which was very desireable. He's great at puzzles, adores fire engines and trains, and remains very neat and concerned about cleanliness. And he is just about fully potty-trained. (More about that in another post.) What I mean is he is not wearing any diapers anymore. Can I get an AMEN?! That's a savings of around $35 a month.
As far as things go with me, let's just say I know all about bodily functions! Between accidentily putting poop in the dryer (too disgusting to even explain here!), constantly changing sheets, mopping up "accidents", and yelling at a boy who decided to expose himself to us as he peed on our grass facing our living room window, I can say life is far from dull!
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Monday, September 10, 2007
Check it out by going HERE.
Tomorrow night will be another City Council meeting. (The last one lasted until 1:30 AM! The longest one they've had!) Looks like PP is bringing out their peeps from Chicago so we're feeling compelled to go again.
Friday, September 07, 2007
My time was broken up into different chunks so I was able to enjoy my family at the same time. I got up early and went into a different room instead of leaving the house and was affected by the sweet sounds of laughter, crying, jumping, and disciplining going on just steps away as William cared for the kiddos.
Okay, my retreat take-aways are below. If you have some thoughts regarding them (like other ideas for me to consider), please share them.
1- GOD – My Spiritual Walk
2- WDW – My Marriage (My Main Role)
3- KIDDOS – My Parenting
4- FELLOW BELIEVERS – My Fellowship (Friends and Family)
5- NON-BELIEVERS – My Evangelizing Unbelievers (Friends and Family)
6- THE HOME – My Work (Home Management)
7- PHYSICALLY – My Body
I decided to take one priority to focus on per day. All that means is I have a 5x7 index card for each day of the week with relevant Scriptures that go with the priority/ focus of the day.
Here's an example:
FRIDAY (Focus: My Work)
Every morning I put the 5x7 card in my kitchen on a corkboard. Surprisingly I DO look at it! I'll have to see how it's working in another month or so.
Another change I made was to simplify my grocery list. I had this really complicated one that listed everything I could ever want or hope to purchase which simply required me to simply CIRCLE that which I needed. Problem is, with kids in the store, my eyes would go crazy and I would forget things too often. Or maybe it's a sign that I'll be needing glasses sooner rather than later? hmmm... Anyway, this new system seems to be helping a bit more. The problem I'm still having is needing to go to MULTIPLE places to get everything. Between diapers at Costco, babyfood at Meijer and Aldi for those el-cheapo things, it is a PAIN. (Judi, can you believe I'd ever NOT like going to the grocery store?!)
Now, the changes I made with the kiddos aren't too big.
Morning Circle Time. Go HERE to read how some savy people do it. While you're there, check out her site for awhile. It's chock-full of good ideas! Here's our simple version:
~ Go over the Whitney-modified Small Children's Catechism. (We're currently learning #3 of 50.)
~ Review their Memory verses (Colossians 3:20 and Philippians 2:14)
~ Worship time (We sing This Little Light of Mine, Sunshine Mountain, and the Gospel Song.
~ Prayer time
I'm planning on adding a picture of the person/s we're praying for so the kids can have a visual.
The struggle I'm having with Circle Time is finding the right time to do it. I want to do it first thing in the morning but it is hard getting everyone dressed, having to nurse Kadin, make breakfast, and feed everyone before putting Kadin down again for a nap. Hmmm...
The last change I made has to do with the kids helping more. Dinner time is still tough but I'm making it more mangeable by having the kids set the table with their kid things. I moved all the kid bowls, cups, utensils into the dining room so all they have to do is get their plate, fork, and sit down. This is an area that requires a lot more training on my part so it's not how it should be yet. But there is HOPE!!!
If you've got some neat-o ideas to share, bring them on! Who can't use a good idea!?
I did get two people to give me some really good feedback and who challenged my preference of 'home manager' over 'homemaker.' One thing a dear friend commented on is how she makes the connection with God being the Maker to her role as homemaker. That really was good! And it certainly helps me see why so many women for so long have used it to describe what they do.
So why am I still stuck on 'home manager' then? It's probably a mental block of sorts but for me (and I do stress for me) I love how it forces me to see my time in the home as an opportunity for stewardship. Let's face it: I ain't bringin' any money into our storehouse! But being home all day and night, God has given me much time to steward.
Ephesians 5:15-17 is one of my Friday Scriptures and it says,
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
I'm actively (meaning this is something I'm constantly working at!) trusting God in that which He has called me to and that which He has set before me to accomplish. I am seeking to love Him by managing my home in a way that would bring Him glory. And praise God that He is calling other women to make their home into something that would bring Him glory!
So, whether the WORK you have before you today is to MAKE, MANANGE, BUILD, ORGANIZE, or whatever, may you and I be faithful to what God's Word tells us in Colossians 3:23-24,
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Kadin all giggles
Kadin after getting his hair "styled" at bedtime.
And this is a look outside our kitchen window right now. I don't think I'll be going to the grocery store after all...
And finally a video of Kadin a few weeks ago.