Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Altering Environments

A lot has happened since my last post. For one, I am now a proud twitter-er (is that a word?) with eight followers. Follow me – amyjmcnair – if you so desire. The Interfaith Youth Core’s (IFYC) Sixth Annual Conference was the last three days at Northwestern. The theme was “Leadership in a religiously diverse world.” Amazing speakers included Eboo Patel Exec director of IFYC, Joshua Dubois (Director of White House Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships), Saleemah Abdul Ghafur from the UN Special Envoy for Malaria Office, Rabbi David Saperstein, and Reverend Jim Wallis, among many others. There was a lot of really excellent things said, and being in a room with 500 other interfaith leaders from around the globe was inspiring in and of itself. Eboo talked quite a bit about how interfaith leaders have vision and positive knowledge of other religions, but they also alter environments. I think that is really important to remember this year. We have a chance to play on a level previous generations did not and the scene is set perfectly for malaria deaths to end. He quoted a Seamus Heaney poem that says; “Every once in a while, hope and history rhyme.” I thought that was so so so powerful. That time is now in my opinion, and we are a part of that. It is cool to be riding on the edge of this global movement and have people like Joshua Dubois saying interfaith is important and we can’t let religious difference get in the way of finding solutions to domestic and global problems. Some may call this idealistic, but I think it is optimism, and the world needs more optimists that act. I was also very proud of Christianity when Skye Jethani, editor of Leadership Journal for Christianity Today, spoke. He knocked it out of the park when he discussed how Christians have worked so hard to be relevant that they have become a joke. He talked about following Jesus, and how its not going to get you what you think it is that you want because God is not some kind of divine butler. Basically the conference was great, made lots of awesome new friends, and had a blast with the other FAFs that came.

Part of our time yesterday was spent doing a service project. My group went to the Chicago Women’s AIDS Project. Most of you know the AIDS community owns a huge portion of my heart, and I was very involved in Seattle so I was excited to go. After walking in and having a how do I say this… vivid/intense/descriptive/graphic/educational lesson on how to use female condoms we were privileged to be able to hear from two women currently living with AIDS. One woman, Helena, has lived a life that many religious people would condemn for a lot of reasons. I was blown away by her grace and openness in sharing her story. She talked about how the biggest thing she has learned is to forgive others (individuals and faith communities) for how they have treated her. I thought that was so powerful. I think the Christian church has a lot of apologizing they could do to the AIDS community that they have not done, and she, not even a Christian, was actively forgiving them for pain they have caused her.

Needless to say, I am learning so much and working hard. I wish I could articulate all I am seeing and learning, but most of it I can't even put into words.

Also, I have a heavy heart this morning because there was a shooting yesterday six blocks from my work and two people died. We didn’t know either of them, but it is still really sad. Please pray for the gang leaders involved. Violence does not help this community, or any other, to move forward.


annetta searer said...

Dear Amy:

Thinking about you, praying for you.. History and hope do rhyme--PopPop and friends' hopes are rhyming with efforts (see WORLDS of late) of others now...sustainable agricultural..improved health and hope---you are doing your part---ministering to people and with projects----we love you. Looking forward to first hand reports of you, after Thanksgiving. Love, MomaMom and PopPop

Unknown said...

Hi Amy,
I'm so excited for you and looking forward to see the amazing things God has for you. He can really surprise us...if we let Him. It's interesting to me how we choose to define God by our own limited view. "God is love therefore...". You have a terrific opportunity to work within eternity, right now.
I pray strength and wisdom and clarity for you.
Cousin-in-law-in-half, whatever, Dave

Unknown said...

Hi Ames
Love reading your blog and catching
up on what you are doing and thinking. Im so proud to be your auntie. We are plugging away here.
Mols home for the weekend and Bubs
coming home on tuesday.
love you girl
Auntie S