I have to say, I don’t think I’ve watched a Senate race more than I have with Alabama’s recent special election between Roy Moore and Doug Jones. You could not have had two more polar-opposite candidates, and sickeningly, Roy Moore survived politically, with party support, and got a considerable number of votes despite the horrendous and numerous allegations made against him. But it’s not just the fact that a Democrat won a historically conservative state like Alabama, it’s who turned out and what’s so important about him winning. Continue reading Alabama Proves It: We Can (And Need To) Make Change Happen Anywhere
You’ll never have to hear the word “no”
If you keep all your friends on the payroll
—Death Cab for Cutie,
“Good Help (Is So Hard To Find)”
I start with this lyric from a Death Cab for Cutie song because if you ask me, it perfectly captures the current state of politics in our country. And you don’t have to look any further than Thursday night, when I stayed up just a little past my bed time (midnight Denver time) to watch CNN rebroadcast C-SPAN, of all things. Now, while you might find this to not be a shock at all, it really isn’t something that I do on a regular basis (or that CNN does, for that matter). However, what was going on was the final vote on another attempt to fix the healthcare system in the United States. And what many considered to be the last-ditch, no-holds-barred attempt to repeal/replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare) failed in what was less of a vote and more of a spectacle now commonplace in our American political system, with a party-line-ish photo finish final tally after months, nay, years of closed-door wranglings and politicking that you’d normally find in a House of Cards episode.
Regnat Populus: the people rule.
E Pluribus Unum: out of many, one.
This past week, I have had the amazing opportunity to be a part of a group of young adults from the Arkansas Conference who went to Washington, DC to participate in the United Methodist Seminar program sponsored by the General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church. The program focused on hunger and poverty in Arkansas and across the United States, and as the Arkansas Conference is currently working on the 200,000 Reasons Initiative, it was a perfect fit for us as we learned about our own state’s statistics on poverty and food insecurity, as well as what programs and ideas have worked in the DC area, and figured out how we can bring that into the initiative.
However, it was more than that. The trip, in and of itself, was an exercise of our collective rights as citizens, an opportunity to imagine new, creative, and innovative solutions to the problems we face in our state, and an adventure into our nation’s expansive and storied capital. And while I know I can’t do the trip justice as far as describing it in detail, I will certainly give it, as they say, “the old college try.”
Continue reading Where Regnat Populus Meets E Pluribus Unum
NOTE: This post originally appeared on KHDX.fm in March of 2017.
To call “TWENTY ØNE PILØTS” musicians would be very appropriate, but nowhere near accurate.
However, calling it the “Emøtiønal Røadshøw” tour was certainly completely accurate.
As you may know, I have had quite the wild ride these past eight months. I went from a Computer Science student not sure of his career path to a Religious Studies student with a plan to become an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church as a communicator and technological advocate and educator, and all of this thanks, in part, to an amazing experience interning with the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church (if you haven’t read any of my writings on that experience, click here). However, as I’ve continued to grapple with that internship, as well as my personal faith development in the context of being a minister as opposed to being a layperson, I’ve come to realize that there is a lot more that I want to learn and experience when it comes to the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs of people outside of my home state and region. Plus, I wanted to take advantage of the opportunities that Hendrix affords me, such as the Odyssey program, while I still have the opportunity to. Therefore, after much discussion with Rev. J.J. Whitney, Hendrix’s chaplain, and quite a few emails, I am very excited to announce that I have been approved to conduct an Odyssey project entitled “View From the Mountain Sky: Serving and Interning in the Mountain Sky Area of the United Methodist Church”.
For Americans, and truly anyone around the world, it’s been…quite a week, to put it nicely. Donald Trump has officially been President for a week and a day, and in that timespan, he has managed to:
- focus a considerable amount of attention on his inaugural crowd size,
- prevent several US government agencies from posting on social media, specifically after several of them posted about climate change,
- sign several controversial executive orders, including ones to build the Mexico-US border wall, restart development of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines, and limit refugees from seven Muslim-majority nations (unless they are Christian or another minority religious tradition),
- and to quote Aziz Ansari, have “an entire gender [protest] against him.”
…and none of this gets into what has been happening with his Cabinet nominees. *cough*Betsy DeVos*cough*
These above points have caused a very wide range of reactions from all sides, but for me, I’ve had to spend a considerable amount of time unpacking it and thinking about the ramifications not just for our nation, but for our entire world. Therefore, I want to focus on two areas that have been affected most recently: religion and science.
Back in June of 2016, I made a little spreadsheet that I titled “UMC in the US – Social Media Presence“. It was a simple little spreadsheet that tracked every United Methodist annual conference and their social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, arguably the three most popular social networks in the United States (especially among the 18-29-year-old demographic), and it all stemmed from a backstage conversation at the Arkansas Annual Conference 2016 about who had the largest Facebook following in our jurisdiction (the answer was the Texas Conference, with Arkansas coming in second). Since that day, I’ve done my best to keep the statistics updated the past 6 months, adding and updating data along the way and letting everyone know about it. In doing so, and watching all of these pages and accounts, I’ve come across some interesting data and had a couple of thoughts on where things stand currently. So without further ado, here are my thoughts after 6 months of observation combined with my own personal opinions on social media.
Continue reading Some Thoughts On UMC Annual Conferences and Their Usage of Social Media
I finally woke up at 10:30am this morning, November 9th. I had ignored my normal alarms that I have set for Wednesdays, because I just wasn’t sure how to face the world, the challenges, the heartache, and the overwhelming sense of fear that so many of the American people face.
Now, to make this clear, my blog reflects my opinion, which is strongly liberal from a political standpoint. However, even with that said, all the issues that I took with Donald Trump were not always political in nature. Far from disagreeing with him on many of the issues, I took issue with his demeanor, his braggadocio, his lack of transparency, and his overall treatment of so many groups in our country.
That’s why it was hard to face the world this morning. It was hard to face the world knowing that the United States had elected someone who went against not our different political beliefs, but against the moral beliefs that we have tried so hard to instill in everyone.
I know, however, that any fear and doubts that I have are significantly eclipsed by those who have truly been affected by Trump’s words and actions. Those who are Latinx, Muslim, African-American, LGBTQIA, female, disabled, supporters of the right to free speech and expression, and so many others have been hurt mentally and sometimes physically by the whole of the campaign. And today, November 9th, they woke up to more than just “not wanting to get out of bed”.
Which leads me to the title of my post: “Stand”. Why this one word? Because it may just be the most important thing we do now. The President, Senate, and House of Representatives have all been elected now, and barring major controversies, they will stay constant for some time. So now it is time for us to stand with each other. To stand with those who feel shut out of America now, to stand against injustice, to stand up and say that we will treat all people, regardless of who they are, with the respect and dignity and love that they deserve, because those ideas throughout America’s lifespan have been the true cornerstone of greatness.
Today, November 9th, there are many Americans who have woken up wondering about what their future holds for them and their families. Let us stand with them.
For those of you who have read my “Interning With The ARUMC” blog/category (click here if you haven’t, it’s a really good read, or so I’ve been told), you know that this summer was a very influential one for me: I had the opportunity to discover how I could use my passion for technology in a way that both served God and served the world. However, it went much deeper than that for me, which is why I write for you all today.
I’d like to talk today about a subject that has gotten a lot of discussion recently: the millage increase for the Sheridan (Arkansas) School District. But before I begin, I’d like to introduce myself and why I have any interest in this subject.