First priority is getting the turkey in the oven tomorrow. I stick loads of butter up under the skin and make little slits all over filled up with butter, garlic, and rosemary. Onions, more garlic, thyme, and sage go inside.
Next up will be a Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie. And freshly whipped cream. You know you want some.
Sweet potatoes to follow - creamed up and topped with chopped pecans, brown sugar, and butter.
While those go in the oven with the turkey, I'll saute a big batch of green beans with garlic and olive oil.
The only thing I'll miss is falling asleep on the coach in front of the Lions or Cowboys.
My friend Ryan (Brown) has been working for years with South African children who are allowed to live on the streets. This year, he is taking his activism further and is kicking off 365 Days of Activism by spending the next sixteen days living on the streets of Cape Town with some of these children. He left his home in Muizenberg today and took the train into town - he didn't take any money, a cell phone, or a change of clothes, and he isn't coming home for the next sixteen days. Ryan is working to raise awareness and is putting his money life where his mouth is, so to speak, by walking in the shoes of the vulnerable and forgotten.
Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse...
"The Elders" - a group of internationally-respected leaders and former leaders (in this case, represented by former US President Carter, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, and former Mozambican first lady (( and wife of former South African President Nelson Mandela)) Graca Machel) - were denied entry into Zimbabwe. They were to promote humanitarian assistance and assess the current situation. They say the country is headed toward complete collapse.
Zimbabwe's crumbling infrastructure has lead to a cholera outbreak. Around 300 people have died so far, more than 6000 are infected, and infected refugees are flooding into South Africa for treatment because there is no medicine available in Zimbabwe.
The current cash exchange rate is US$1 to (new valuation) Z$1.2 million. Real inflation is now estimated at over 1 billion percent annually. None of this is really relevant anymore, as the country has essentially run out of paper and ink to print currency, so hardly anyone can even find Zim Dollars even if they wanted to.
I'm finalizing my travel plans for next month - today the plan is to fly into Zim, but yesterday's plan was to drive. Who knows what tomorrow will bring. In any case, I'll be there in a couple of weeks to bring a first-hand report from the ground.
"Someone once said racism is like cancer. It's never totally wiped out, it's in remission," William Ferris, senior associate director of the Center for the Study of the American South at the University of North Carolina.
Growing up in a small Southern town, I became acquainted with racism in both its noxious overt form and its more deadly, more subtle forms. A journalism and history-heavy university education at a large, diverse institution helped me begin to understand racism's roots. Living for the first time as a racial minority in New Orleans East gave me a tiny bit of insight into the minority experience. Studying theology exposed racism's lies (as well as the lies told by that particular religious tradition in upholding institutionalized racism in the past). Struggling to build cross-cultural bridges in a proudly African-American Southern city taught me about the challenges we all still face when dealing with the past. Finally, living again as a racial minority in Africa (complete with a whole new set of historical racial baggage) and working almost exclusively across racial lines has shown me just how destructive racism is to everyone involved and how deeply ingrained those destructive patterns have become across entire societies.
But it has never been truly personal. Even when living as a minority, it has not been as the oppressed other, but as a member of the historical oppressor and the current base of (primary) economic power. That isn't to say that race, racism, and power structures are the basis of all of my relationships - thankfully our work based on the truth of Jesus and His radically inclusive life has brought us to the table as equals and sometimes less - but those issues remain.
Now it is personal. My son does not look like me. His skin is darker. And so some people will hate him. Some people will deny him opportunity. Some people will believe he is their subordinate, their inferior, their slave. Some people will call him names. Some people will try to hurt him. Some people will tell lies about him in order to categorize and marginalize him. To some people, my son is less than they are. Now it's personal.
I cried today when I read the article containing the quote that opens this post. The article is about the response of some people across America to Barack Obama's election as President. From New England to California and from Florida to Washington, there are hateful, hurtful, ignorant, destructive people whose views and actions I now take very personally. I'm angry and I'm sad and I'm confused... I read this:
Grant Griffin, a 46-year-old white Georgia native, expressed similar sentiments: "I believe our nation is ruined and has been for several decades and the election of Obama is merely the culmination of the change.
"If you had real change it would involve all the members of (Obama's) church being deported," he said.
Four North Carolina State University students admitted writing anti-Obama comments in a tunnel designated for free speech expression, including one that said: "Let's shoot that (N-word) in the head."
At Standish, Maine, a sign inside the Oak Hill General Store read: "Osama Obama Shotgun Pool." Customers could sign up to bet $1 on a date when Obama would be killed. "Stabbing, shooting, roadside bombs, they all count," the sign said. At the bottom of the marker board was written "Let's hope someone wins."
(In) the Los Angeles area... swastikas, racial slurs and "Go Back To Africa" were spray painted on sidewalks, houses and cars.
For all of the (rightful) celebration that a new era has come in America, we are reminded that yesterday is still with us. And now I understand something much more profound than sociological explanations or theological underpinnings... I understand how it feels to read the article and hear those words directed at me and my family. And it hurts like hell.
Up to one half (yes - 50% of the entire country) will likely need food aid before next April. Due to lack of funds because of the ignored appeal, the WFP has already reduced the amount of food aid being distributed to hungry families in an effort to make their supplies last longer.
Less than $0.50 per American (total - not per day) could feed an entire nation at risk of starvation. Yet that money is not available.
I had a long conversation two days ago with a close friend from Zimbabwe. We talked about many topics, but one exchange stood out as we discussed the American election and the Zimbabwean political crisis.
We were talking about the disappointment being voiced on many Christian websites about the Obama victory. He said:
"All Americans need to be thankful for this election. Not about who won or lost. But about the fact that again and again, one party can be voted out of office and another party can take power. Even when the results are contested like in 2000, the transition takes place peacefully and the losing party accepts defeat and regroups to contest another election in the future."
Eight months after the Zimbabwean elections, the three main parties are still arguing about who won and what positions they will hold in a new government. Eight months after casting their votes, Zimbabweans do not have a transition. Eight months after going to the polls, no one in Zimbabwe is sure when or if their votes will ever be counted or if the parties will ever agree to lead the country. Eight months after the election, thousands of Zimbabweans are giving up hope that they will ever see family members again who disappeared after being beaten, stoned, and burned alive during the campaign season.
Pray for Zimbabwe. Pray that her leaders will put aside their differences and agree to move forward. Zimbabweans are flooding into neighboring countries and more than 1/2 of those left do not have food on their tables. And as you pray for their politicians, be thankful that in four years' time, you will have a chance to vote in peace for whomever you choose.
I'm about to go to sleep in South Africa - blissfully removed from non-stop media and exit polls coming in and states being called (and blissfully spared from two years of non-stop campaigning!). In the morning, I'll wake up to find the results of today's election online and will get on with my day. About half of you will be disappointed and about half of you will be excited.
I reluctantly voted a few weeks ago by mail - mostly because I felt that one candidate stood out on a few issues I believe to be important. Half of you voted for that candidate as well, but for your own reasons. Half of you voted for the other candidate because he stood out on a few issues you believe to be important. I respect that and understand how reasonable people can come to different voting decisions.
But even if the candidate I voted for wins this election, I don't expect much in the way of what I believe to be the most important goal of the day - the expansion of God's Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
I do not place any confidence in transformation by political means or a particular candidate or party. And I encourage you, my dear five readers, to reach the same conclusion. Putting "Country First" is a gross offense to those who owe allegiance to a Kingdom, and the "Change We Can Believe In" will never ever come from leaders of a terrestrial empire.
What matters most is not how you voted today, but how you voted yesterday and how you will vote tomorrow. Our actions each day reveal our true love and our motivations. May our daily actions - our daily vote - be for the Kingdom of the Heavens First and for the Transforming Power of Jesus We Can Believe In. We do not belong to Republicans or Democrats, but to Christ and Christ Alone.