Because We Care

It’s bad in Haiti – I live in San Francisco, and have lived through earthquakes, but trying to go through a 7.0 earthquake with unreinforced buildings, etc. etc. is just unimaginable.

So, there are plenty of ways to give. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Doctors Without Borders: The hospital that they run in Port Au Prince has been destroyed, they’ve moved all the staff and patients out into the courtyard.  The group is flying staff into the region from other countries, which of course means there will be issues in those countries as a result.
  • Church World Service: There’s the immediate crisis, and then there’s the rebuilding. Church World Service has partnerships with the local communities in Haiti and will be doing both.
  • UNICEF: This world-wide organization will be there to help children in the coming days, weeks and years.

Seriously, folks, get out the credit card and donate today.  I’ve done my share.  And if you live in earthquake country and don’t have an emergency kit put together, let this be a wake-up call to start.

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Breaking Up with Chase Bank is Easy To Do

(Note: this post is not about knitting or spinning.  We will return to our regular programming after this post.)

When I moved to California almost 11 years ago, I had to change banks, and I decided on WAMU, which had free checking accounts.  For years, I had good experiences, at least ’til their sub-prime lending ways led them to collapse in September 2008.  But everything was insured, so I didn’t lose money, and JPMorgan Chase took them over.

I was willing to give these folks a chance, but the more I read about Jamie Dimon, who has basically refused to help homeowners refinance their mortgages, and has bought the Congress with his lobbying, and the complete lack of remorse about their part in tanking the economy, I was getting more and more irritated.

But then came the $5 bill.  It tore as I was pulling it out of my wallet, neatly in two.  No big deal, I thought, the next time I go into Chase, I’ll trade it out.

So, when I went into the branch where my Mom lives, I deposited a check, and then asked to change out the $5.  The teller looked at me apologetically, and told me that Chase does not accept “multilated currency.”  I stared at him dumbfounded, and said, “but you’re a BANK.”  He then told me that I could mail the bill the to hUS Treasury. He also said he thought this was a stupid policy.  I asked to speak to a supervisor.  He went up to her, and then told me she would get me the address to send the currency to.

I was kept waiting for 15 minutes – the manager was sitting at her desk, calmly doing her own work, even grabbing a file from a file drawer to continue her work.  Finally, I asked another clerk to get the supervisor.  He went up to her, and then tried to tell me that she was getting the address, so I demanded in a loud voice to speak with her.  Angry, she stalked to a station and pointed to me. Here’s how it went from there.

Me: “Is this a bank?”

Her: “Huh?”

Me:  “Is this a bank?”

Her (through gritted teeth):  Yes.

Me:  Then give me another $5 bill.

Her:  No, you need to send this to Treasury.  I was getting the address.  (She wasn’t.)

Me:  You’re a BANK.  This is your JOB.

Her:  It would cost us money to do this.  This is YOUR money.

Me:  I will close out all of my accounts.

Her:  Ok, we can do that right now.

Me (realizing I have auto this-and-that and couldn’t do it that day):  I will do this at my own convenience, not yours.

Banking Irony:  I take the $5 bill to KMart to buy something for my mom, and the clerk takes a piece of tape, tapes it together, and puts it in the drawer.  I like to think it ended up in the deposits of the Chase Bank that night.

So, I will be putting my money in a credit union, which usually have their customer interests a little higher on the priority list, being non-profit and membership-based.  It will make my life a little less convenient, but I am very, very willing to live with that. ‘

If you have your money in one of the “big four” banks (Chase, Citibank, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America), think about moving your accounts.  There is no reason to continue supporting banks that are predatory on both their customers and the taxpayers, and can wreck our economy because of their political clout.

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A Christmas Wish


Most of us who gather in Bethlehem on this night
Are not the star seekers.
We’ve not traveled our dreams
Month after month, year after year,
Poring over predictions and promises.
Most of us sit on our hillsides
Tending our sheep,
Business as usual.
Oh, we’ve heard rumors of stars,
But we don’t really give ourselves to seeking
After all, there’s more than enough to do
In the daily tending.
We’re simply not on the lookout for stars,
Nor expecting any light in our darkness.
I suppose the important thing is,
In the light of the glory of the Lord,
To recognize the voice of an angel
And to get up
And in spite of our sheep
To go even unto Bethlehem
To see this thing that has happened.

by Ann Weems, Kneeling in Bethlehem

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Total Depravity and the like

I learned a new skill last week, and it was due to Heather Ordover of Craftlit. I had commented earlier to her about a theological issue  because she is leading us through The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthore, and a couple of podcasts ago she put out a call to me on her podcast to send her some information about sin and evil.  I emailed her my stuff, and then she said, oh, so casually, why don’t you send me an audio file?

Well, since i’m a pastor,  I do speak for a living every Sunday, so I know my voice is ok.  And then I discovered that in fact, my little 13 inch MacBook can record my voice and everything! So, if you go here, you can hear me talking about, sin, evil and total depravity.  Ah, yes, I’m so cheery about it all too!  The Fun thing in the podcast is that there’s another graduate of theological studies who Heather quotes, and it’s a great complement to my stuff.

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