1. A border town’s impressive public library
I’ll always remember McAllen, Texas as the border town our family crossed into after driving up through Mexico in the summer of ‘95. I was stunned by the wide, smooth highways and the fifty brands of toilet paper in the brightly-lit grocery store. Three months later, on our way back to Guatemala we stopped in McAllen again, and I was struck by what a depressing, run-down place it was. That’s what a summer driving through the U.S. will do to the perspective of a kid who grew up in Latin America. At any rate, McAllen’s Walmart recently closed down, and rather than sitting empty or becoming the home to another generic big box store, the town turned it into the largest single-story library in the country, and it looks amazing.
2. Defending the “evangelical” label
Dr. Rich Mouw, president of Fuller Seminary, discusses why, despite its striking unpopularity in some circles, he insists on using the “evangelical” label to describe himself and what he means by it:
For me evangelical identity points to such things as a firm belief in the supreme authority of the Bible and the unique atoning work of Jesus Christ, as well as to the obligation to work actively in inviting people to enter into a personal relationship with the Savior. And furthermore, it means continuing to plead with others who own the label not to pile onto those important convictions a lot of additional baggage that does not do honor to a label that I continue to love.
The United States’ oldest, continuously operated farmer’s market stands in the heart of Amish country in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The historic market has been in operation since the 1730s, and was granted permanent status by King George II in 1742. It remains popular today, and tourists flock here to purchase hand-crafted products and foods made by the local Amish community. While the Pennsylvania Dutch wares might be the biggest draw for out-of-towners, locals appreciate the wide variety of imported goods sold alongside local produce, fresh flowers, just-caught seafood and hearty baked breads.
4. Tortilla-making bragging rights
It’s not every day the New York Times sends a reporter to work on a story about a tortilla-making operation, but lo and behold, the paper recently had an article about Ranch Market, literally just down the street from our apartment in Phoenix. Katie took me there when I was first visiting to try their amazing horchatta, and the place had an instant heart-warming effect. And apparently its tortillas are facilitating world peace:
Tortillas are a Mexican staple of transnational appeal here, bridging divisions carved by Arizona’s tough stance on immigration and reaching far beyond Latin American borders. The factory, at the Ranch Market store on North 16th Street, employs a pair of Iraqi refugees to whom flour tortillas have become a replacement for the flat bread known as khubz. There are also Cubans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans and, of course, Mexicans manning the machines like the rounder, which turns the masa into balls that are then pressed and cooked in 500-degree ovens at a rate of eight dozen disks a minute.
5. Following Jesus on Twitter
RELEVANT has an excerpt from Leonard Sweet’s recent book Viral. Sweet has long chastised Christians who are overly focused on leadership, emphasizing instead that Christians are first of all called to follow, not lead. In this excerpt he argues that Twitter can make us better Jesus-followers:
In Twitter’s ethic of followership, I am constantly reframing reality in ways that are more Jesus—more grace-full, more forgiving, more loving, more humorous—and helping my “followers” to better follow Christ. I am constantly on the prowl for things that could encourage, enrich, inspire. I want my tweeps (people who follow me and whom I follow) either to smile after reading one of my tweets or to shake their heads and sing, “What a Tweep We Have in Jesus.” In my ongoing battle with self-transcendence over self-absorption, Twitter has helped me become more others-focused. The Twitter question of “What are you doing?” has been replaced in my mind with “What is God doing?” and “Where do I see Jesus?” and “What am I paying attention to?” The real question is not “Would Jesus tweet?” but “What would Jesus tweet?”
6. The power of a community leader
While I sympathize with Sweet’s emphasis on followership (and have good reason to be grateful for Twitter as well, by the way), there’s definitely a place for good leadership too. Take John Fetterman. He’s the young, tattooed mayor of Braddock, a small town in western Pennsylvania hit hard by the twin trends of suburbanization and de-industrialization. Originally the home to US Steel, when Fetterman was elected mayor in 2005 — by a margin of a single vote — the town was dying. But his leadership has sparked an inspiring revitalization, captured in this episode of A Day In The Life (HT A View From The Cave). Oh, and his tattoos? On one forearm is a tattoo that reads 15104, Braddock’s zip code. On the other are five dates — representing each of the murders that have occurred in Braddock since he took office.
Repaso is intended as a thought-provoking compilation of news and commentary from the past week related to the intersections of faith, development, justice and peace. As always, I welcome your thoughts on any of the links and ideas in this roundup!
[Photo credit: gawker.com]