Posts Tagged With: ONE Moms

Give a Gift with Purpose from the ONE Shop

598430_509984075689869_726163983_nThere is still time to order #GiftsthatGive for Christmas and Hannukah from the ONE Campaign’s Shop – including the gorgeous scarves made by fashionABLE in Ethiopia exclusively for the ONE Campaign pictured above.

Read about the women weavers from fashionABLE who make them HERE.

Happily, fashionABLE is completely sold out of their inventory for the year (which means, among other things, the organization/company has been able to hire three more women since I visited their factory in Addis Ababa with ONE Moms in October!)

So the only place you can still order fashionABLE scarves in time for Christmas is the ONE Shop. Woot!

Please enjoy a special ONE Moms | ONE Dads | ONE Mums Friends and Family discount of 25%. At checkout, use code: ONEFRIENDS25

*Discount expires 12/21/12 at 11:59 pm ET
Ground=$6.99 order by 3 pm ET 12/19
2-Day=$10.99 order by 3 pm ET 12/20
Next Day=$18.99 order by 3 pm ET 12/21

CLICK HERE TO ORDER.

Categories: ONEMOMS | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bono Preaches the Gospel of Social Justice at Georgetown

“Do you think he’ll sing?” the girl in the row behind me wondered aloud.

“I hope so,” the young fellow beside her said before continuing, “My dad would freak. He was a big fan of U2 when I was growing up. He used to play this one album, The Joshua Tree, over and over again.”

His father was a fan.

I am a thousand years old, I thought to myself, as more Georgetown students filled the seats around me at the university’s 111-year-old Gaston Hall, the main lecture hall on campus named after Georgetown’s first student, William Gaston, who later served as a member of the U.S. Congress.

The hall, decorated with stunning art-deco-era frescos and the crest of every Jesuit institute of higher learning, has hosted many dignitaries over the years, including Presidents Obama and Clinton, Vice-President Al Gore, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, to name but a few.

“So if he’s not going to sing, is he just going to talk,” another student asked, with a distinct whiff of disappointment in his voice.

“I hear he’s an awesome speaker, though,” still another student said.

The students who packed the auditorium, many of them from Georgetown’s Global Social Enterprise Initiative at the McDonough School of Business and more than a few donning black t-shirts with the insignia of the ONE Campaign (of which Bono is a co-founder), weren’t sure what to expect from the famous Irish rock star and humanitarian.

A concert? A lecture? Another boring speech?

I’m fairly certain none of the students present for Monday night’s event, sponsored by the Bank of America and The Atlantic magazine, anticipated hearing Bono, the 52-year-old lead singer of U2, preach.

But preach he did.

After an introduction by Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America (whose presence was greeted by some grumbling from the students seated around me, one who suggested in a stage whisper that they start a chant from the Occupy Wall Street movement), Bono bounded up to the lectern, grinning with his blue eyes flashing excitement from behind his trademark rose-colored shades.

“Thank you, Brian — a gentleman in a world where, uh, that quality is not always on tap,” Bono began, as the crowd roared. “The band wanted me to say thank you to you too, Brian, because, as you heard, the band are committed to the idea that every school kid in Ireland should have access to free music lessons if they need ‘em. So Brian has been helping us out with that.”

(That seemed to quell any unrest about having one of the world’s leading bankers in the room.)

“I don’t know if this is a lectern or a pulpit,” Bono told the crowd, folding his arms on the wooden podium in front of him, “but I feel oddly comfortable. It’s a bit of a worry, isn’t it? So … welcome to Pop Culture Studies 101. Please take out your notebooks. Today we are going to discuss why rock stars should never, ever be given access to microphones at institutes of higher learning.

“You will receive no credit for taking this class,” Bono joked, “not even street cred — it’s too late for that. I will, of course, be dropping the occasional pop culture reference to give the impression that I know where your generation is at. I do not. I am not sure where I am at.”

Good. I’m not the only one who feels ancient amidst this audience of youngsters, I thought.

“And the first existential question of this class might be, ‘What am I doing in [Gaston] Hall?’” Bono quipped. “I could be down having my third pint at The Tombs….Pop culture references. Rock star does research.”

Score one for said rock star. The room erupted in laughter at the mention of one of the campus’ legendary watering holes.

“I heard Election Night was quite messy on the pint front. Isn’t it amazing how three pints can make everything seem like victory, but four or five and you just know you’re about to taste defeat,” he continued. “Anyway, congratulations are in order. Not just for turning out in record numbers, but — forgetting politics for a minute — for electing an extraordinary man as president. I think you have to say that whatever your political tradition.”

Bono also congratulated the audience for being freed from the “tyranny” of political “attack ads.” Imagine, he said, if they never went away, if attack ads were the norm for everything, even, say, college admissions.

“Hello. We’re Georgetown and we approved this message,” he said in the stoic voice of a political ad announcer. “Let me say a few words about some other fine institutions you might be considering. UVA: Thomas Jefferson, what have they done to you? Syracuse: A school whose mascot is a fruit. Duke: A school that worships the devil.

“Georgetown – you’re in with the other guy! Georgetown has God on its side. Everyone knows God is a Catholic, right?” said Bono, whose late mother was a Protestant and late father, Bob, a Catholic. “Two words: Frank Sinatra. That proves it!”

All jokes aside — and he was terrifically witty throughout his nearly hour long address — Bono turned his attention to his true passion: helping the world’s poorest of the poor.

“I’d like to hear attack ads on things worth attacking. If there was an attack ad on malaria, I’d get that, because 3,000 people die every day — mostly kids — of malaria. Let’s have an attack ad on malaria. Let’s have an attack ad on mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS. I’d get that. Choose your enemies carefully because they define you. Make sure they’re interesting enough because trust me, you’re going to spend a lot of time in their company. So let’s pick a worthwhile enemy, shall we?

“How ’bout all the obstacles to fulfilling human potential — not just yours or mine but the world’s potential?” he continued. “I would suggest to you that the biggest obstacle in the way right now is extreme poverty. Poverty so extreme that it brutalizes, it vandalizes human dignity. Poverty so extreme it laughs at the concept of human dignity. Poverty so extreme it doubts how far we’ve traveled in our journey of equality; the journey that began with Wilberforce taking on slavery and a journey that will not end until misery and deprivation are in stocks.”

Were Bono an actual preacher, that was where he would have pounded his fists on the pulpit.

Painted on the wall behind the podium where this unlikely preacher of the Gospel of Social Justice spoke are the Latin words: Ad majorem Dei gloriam inque hominum salutem. Earlier, Georgetown’s president, John De Gioia, reminded the students of their meaning: “For the greater glory of God and the betterment of humankind.”

The Abolitionists. The Suffragettes. The Civil Rights Movement.

Social movements have always been powerful, Bono told the audience, but there is something special about this moment in history — it’s “transformative.”

“This moment, this generation [has] the chance that you have to rid the world of the obscenity of extreme poverty. Wouldn’t that be a hell of a way to start the 21st century?”

You could have heard a pin drop. The kids seated on either side of me were leaning forward in their chairs. They were listening with the attentiveness professors only dream about. Bono had their attention and kept it as he told them about the power they have to make changes — significant, global changes — by the conscious choices they make about how they spend their money, through social media and emerging technologies, by making sure their politicians keep the promises they’ve made about foreign aid funding in Africa and the rest of the developing world.

Something big was happening in the room. You could feel it. A palpable presence. I’d call it the Holy Spirit.

And it reminded me of a night 10 years ago at another college campus, when Bono spoke at my alma mater, Wheaton College in Illinois. At the time, I was traveling with Bono and his organization DATA (a predecessor of ONE) across the Midwest where he was trying to get American evangelicals (in particular) to turn their attention to the AIDS emergency in sub-Saharan Africa and to do something about it as a matter of justice — as a matter of the heart of their own faith.

Bono’s address at Wheaton fell about half-way through the Heart of America tour and it was a turning point not only for the tour, but for the movement it sparked. American evangelicals — the great “sleeping giant,” as Bono called them at the time — woke up, got involved, and worked for change. The monumental successes in alleviating crushing debt, supplying life-saving HIV/AIDS drugs, malaria netting, and the funds to put millions of African children in school for the first time are a testament to what transpired in Wheaton’s Edmund Chapel in early December 2002.

I know students who were there that night who’ve gone on to dedicate their careers and lives to helping the “least of these.” I, too, jaded journalist and wounded evangelical as I was at the time, was changed. Healed. Inspired and transformed.

The same thing was happening in Gaston Hall last night.

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“Those people I’ve been talking about today — the poor — they’re not ‘those people,’ they’re not ‘them.’ They’re us. They’re you,” Bono said toward the end of his address. “They dream as you dream. They value what you value. There is no them, only us. The American anthem is not exceptionalism, it’s universalism. There is no them. Only us. Ubuntu. ‘I am because we are.’ There is no them. Only us.”

Maybe it’s a sheer coincidence (I’m doubtful) that the motto of Georgetown, a Jesuit university, is Utraque Unum, which means “both into one.”

Ultraque Unum in Latin.

Ubuntu in a dialect from South Africa where Archbishop Desmond Tutu — the man Bono only half-kidding says he works for — has taken the word as his own life’s motto.

Bono turned his attention to the Jesuits and their founder St. Ignatius of Loyola, to whom that Latin quote on the wall of the Gaston hall often is attributed.

“St. Ignatius, he was a soldier,” Bono began. “He was lying on a bed recovering from his wounds when he had what they call a conversion of the heart. He saw God’s work and the call to do God’s work. Not just in the church, in everything, everywhere. The arts, universities, the Orient, the New World. And once he knew about that, he couldn’t unknow it.

“It changed him,” Bono said. “It forced him out of bed and into the world. And that’s what I’m hoping happens here in Georgetown with you. Because when you truly accept that those children in some far off place in the global village have the same value as you — in God’s eyes or even just in your eyes — then your life is forever changed. You see something that you can’t unsee.”

Sitting there, tears dripping down my cheeks, I could feel it. Minds were opened. Hearts and eyes were, too.

Who knows when we look back 10 years from now, what the result of some of those Georgetown students seeing what they couldn’t unsee will be.

May we all have the eyes to see it.

Watch Bono’s full Georgetown address below:

Cathleen Falsani is Web Editor and Director of New Media for Sojourners. She is also a member of the advisory board for ONE Moms, a project of the ONE Campaign. Follow Cathleen on Twitter @godgrrl.

Photo credits: All photos by Cathleen Falsani for Sojourners.

Categories: From Sojo.net, GODSTUFF, ONEMOMS | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Smell. Sip. Sacrament.

Of all the exotic aromas and experiences from my sojourn in Ethiopia, it’s the frankincense I miss most.

Not the puffs of smoke emanating from a thurible swung by priest walking the center aisle or blessing a high altar. What I miss is an even more specific scent: the unmistakable mélange of frankincense and roasting coffee beans over a charcoal fire.

Frankincense and slow-roasted beans are the sacramental elements of the Ethiopian coffee ceremony – a rite at once ubiquitous and quotidian, transcendent and sacred. (This is where I wish there were a digital scratch-and-sniff function so you could experience the aroma I’m describing so anemically.)

Everywhere we went in Ethiopia, without fail a coffee ceremony had been arranged meticulously to welcome and honor us. Such ceremonies, we quickly learned, are an integral part of Ethiopian culture.

According to Epicurean.com:

The long involved process starts with the ceremonial apparatus being arranged upon a bed of long scented grasses. The roasting of the coffee beans is done in a flat pan over a tiny charcoal stove, the pungent smell mingling with the heady scent of incense that is always burned during the ceremony. The lady who is conducting the ceremony gently washes a handful of coffee beans on the heated pan, then stirs and shakes the husks away.

When the coffee beans have turned black and shining and the aromatic oil is coaxed out of them, they are ground by a pestle and a long handled mortar. The ground coffee is slowly stirred into the black clay coffee pot locally known as jebena, which is round at the bottom with a straw lid. Due to the archaic method used by Ethiopians, the ground result can be called anything but even, so the coffee is strained through a fine sieve several times. … The lady finally serves the coffee in tiny china cups [editor’s note: a cross between an Italian espresso cup and a Japanese sake cup] to her family, friends and neighbors who have waited and watched the procedure for the last half-hour. Gracefully pouring a thin golden stream of coffee into each little cup from a height of one foot without an interruption requires years of practice….

In most parts of Ethiopia, the coffee ceremony takes place three times a day — in the morning, at noon and in the evening. It is the main social event within the village and a time to discuss the community, politics, life and about who did what with whom. If invited into a home to take part, remember — it is impolite to retire until you have consumed at least three cups, as the third round is considered to bestow a blessing. Transformation of the spirit is said to take place during the coffee ceremony through the completion of Abol (the first round), Tona (second round), and Baraka (third round).

If memory serves, only once during our stay in Ethiopia did I have that third cup (and, it would seem, it’s accompanying special blessing.) I don’t know about blessing, but it did keep me especially awake and alert for the rest of the day (and much of the night.)

Ethiopian coffee is rich, spicy, earthy. It is also the nation’s primary export and foreign capital generator, topping $840 million in 2010. It’s said that the best Ethiopian coffee is exported and the lesser quality beans kept in country. That may well be true, but the coffee I drank in country was far better than any Ethiopian Yirgacheffe I’ve ever tasted at a Starbucks or similar purveyor stateside.

Maybe that’s because of how coffee is not just tasted and consumed in Ethiopia, but how it is experienced.

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Next to the small charcoal fire, over which the beans are roasted, is a vessel containing frankincense in its natural resin state. Frankincense comes from the dried sap (or resin) of the Boswellia sacra tree – a hearty tree that can grow in the most extreme conditions, in rocky soil, on cliffs and the steep sides of ravines.

One more than one occasion, the vessel holding the burning frankincense resembled a chalice, the kind we might find on a Christian altar during Eucharist, “Communion,” or (for lower-church folks) the “Lord’s Table.”

The first night we were in Addis Ababa, we went to a traditional restaurant in town where we happened to be seated next to the beautiful young woman whose job it was to continually prepare the coffee ceremony for all the customers. The aroma emanating from her little enclave [pictured at the top] was nothing short of intoxicating.

I kept leaning further in her direction until one of my traveling companions said, “Cath, let your hair down and just go over there and let the incense get all over it.”

I had tied my long, oft-unruly locks into a bun at the end of a long day. But like a penitent Rapunzel, I let down my hair, shook it out, and waved it over the incense.

Instantly I was reminded of the story from the Gospel of the woman (some say Mary Magdalene, who was, according to tradition at least, also a redhead) came to Jesus during a dinner, opened an alabastron of expensive oil (perhaps even frankincense, although more likely spikenard), anointed his feet (or his head, depending on which Gospel account you’re reading) with it, and weeping (or not, again depending on which account), wiped his feet with her locks.

The disciples were indignant about the woman “wasting” the precious oil on such an act. It could have been sold and the money given to the poor.

Jesus greeted his disciples grumbling with one of the most disconcerting and contentious verses in the New Testament when — according to Mark 12, Matthew 26, and John 12. I like Eugene Peterson’s The Message para-translation of John 12:8 the best of all the synoptic accounts, which translates the verse as:

 Jesus said, “Let her alone. She’s anticipating and honoring the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you. You don’t always have me.”

That verse has been used for centuries by many Christians to justify not working to alleviate poverty and its suffering. Jesus said we’d always have the poor, so what’s the point?

But I don’t believe that’s what Jesus meant. I believe he was pointing out that sometimes the choice is not between moral and immoral, ethical and unethical, but rather between moral and necessary.

Jesus knew he would be gone – physically, at least – soon. The woman’s choice to spend her precious oil the way she did wasn’t a moral choice. It was a necessity. She wouldn’t be able to do it later, after she’d helped the poor by selling her vessel of oil, because Jesus would be gone.

I can’t help but hear echoes of that in the Ethiopian coffee ceremony. Is it a moral, practical, or ethical choice to burn frankincense whilst roasting coffee beans by hand? Surely not.

But, the Ethiopians seem to be saying (without words), it is necessary. Because who knows when we’ll be together again? So let’s honor the time we have together, bless it, mark it as sacred – a sacred meeting of souls.

Back home in California, we recently purchased one of those one-cup-at-a-time Keurig coffee makers after running through two high-end traditional coffee machines in 18 months. (Two writers in one house equals a high rate of coffee consumption.) While I think it was the proper choice for us – we waste less coffee this way, and have bought one of those reusable pods so that we’re not always using recyclable-but-still-plastic-and-not-terribly-ethical disposable pods pre-filled with the coffee of our choice.

I brought home a pound or so of ground coffee from Ethiopia and we’ve tried to get the amount of grounds and water pressure just right to replicate the drink I’d had in Africa.

Nothing doing.

Ethiopian coffee ceremony a la Kuerig is too fast, too easy, and much too weak in myriad ways.

In coffee ceremonies back in Africa, the beans were ground by hand with a mortar and pestle. They’d be uneven. Chunky. When steeped, the coffee needed to be sieved over and over to make the final product perfectly potable. It took time, patience, and a practiced hand. It also required a different kind of regard for the act itself: the woman preparing the coffee wasn’t simply making a beverage. She was presiding over something humble and holy.

Two of my ONE Moms traveling companions — Asha Dornfest and Liz Gumbinner — toast each other with Ethiopian coffee in Addis Ababa last month. Photo by Karen Walrond for ONE.

Even if I could replicate the grounds (I do have a Le Creuset mortar and pestle that mostly serves as decoration on my kitchen window sill), and sieved the elixir until it was just right, it still wouldn’t be.

Why? No frankincense and all the sacred intention that comes with it.

But it doesn’t need to be so, I try to remind myself. It all depends on how I view the act — sharing a coffee with another person or a group of people, even if they’re just strangers biding their time before an early-morning flight out of LAX.

With or without incense, hand-roasted beans; steeped in an earthenware vessel, a French press, chrome percolator from the 1960s; served in tiny porcelain cups, big hearty mugs, or in a paper cup in the narthex of a church or in its basement at a 12-step meeting, coffee is a sacrament when it is shred.

Two souls. Two cups of coffee. One Spirit. And a sacred meeting, one sip at a time.

Cathleen Falsani is Web Editor and Director of New Media for Sojourners. Last month, Cathleen traveled to Ethiopia as an expense-paid guest of the ONE Campaign on a listening-and-learning visit to programs and organizations that work primarily with women and girls. Learn more about ONE Moms and the Ethiopia trip HERE. Watch for Cathleen’s tweets (and those of her ONE Moms traveling companions) on Twitter with the tag #ONEMOMS.

Photo credit: All photos by Cathleen Falsani for Sojourners unless otherwise indicated.

Categories: From Sojo.net, GODSTUFF, ONEMOMS | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Ethiopia: The Face of God

BAHIR DAR, Ethiopia — When I posted this photograph of a beautiful little Ethiopian girl holding a daisy a few days ago, my friend  and fellow author Christian Piatt responded on Twitter with a four-word comment:

 

“The Face of God.”

Christian’s remark stopped me in my tracks … because it’s absolutely true.

The Bible even tells us so.

So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. ~ Genesis 1:27

When I look into the eyes of the hundreds of Ethiopian children I’ve met, given high (and low) fives to, fist bumped, hugged, and waived to in the last few days, my thought is always the same: Oh my God, they are so beautiful.

What I didn’t recognize Christian’s profound four words is that Oh my God, they are so beautiful is also a prayer. A “wow” prayer, to borrow an idea from Anne Lamott.

Since Christian called my attention to the face of God, I haven’t been able to look at any of the remarkable souls I’ve spent time with here in Ethiopia without thinking about God’s face.

That Divine Spark reflected in our eyes. Our faces and bodies, hearts and souls all beautifully and wondrously made in the image of the Creator.

Nowhere is the face of God more evident than in the faces of children. They haven’t learned to cover up their divine face with masks yet, like so many of us adults have. Their joy is pure and unfettered, as is their fear and pain.

Below you can see for yourself what I’m on about — the face of God in the faces of a few of the hundreds of Ethiopian children I’ve been immensely blessed to meet on my journey to their truly sacred land. (More on that last bit in a forthcoming post.)

Oh my God, they are so beautiful.

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All photos by Cathleen Falsani for Sojourners.

Cathleen is Web Editor and Director of New Media for Sojourners. Follow Cathleen on Twitter @GodGrrl. Cathleen is traveling in Ethiopia this week as an expense-paid guest of the ONE Campaign on a listening-and-learning visit to programs and organizations that work primarily with women and girls. Learn more about ONE Moms and the Ethiopia trip HERE. Watch for Cathleen’s tweets (and those of her ONE Moms traveling companions) on Twitter with the tag #ONEMOMS.

Read more of Cathleen’s posts from her Ethiopian journey by clicking on the links below.

Ethiopia: Motherhood is Powerful, Precious

Ethiopia: God Is Even Bigger Than We Think

Categories: From Sojo.net, GODSTUFF, ONEMOMS | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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