It’s not about the ships.

The important thing is how cargo gets from one part of the world to another.

Sometimes the best way is on a ship that passes through the Canal.  But not all cargo stays in ships as it goes through the Canal.   The canal administration understands that is a node in a flow of global commerce from everywhere to everywhere.  The canal is an important part of Panama’s brand:  “Bridge of the World, Heart of the Universe.”

Panama is about connectivity between humans.   But the Canal doesn’t produce the Continue reading “PANAMA”PUENTE DEL MUNDO, CORAZON DEL UNIVERSO””

South American Immigrants in the United States

Growing rapidly from a population of 90,000 in 1960 to nearly 3 million in 2014, South American immigrants now represent 7 percent of all foreign born in the United States. Family-based immigration is the primary pathway for all South American groups, ranging from 45 percent of Venezuelan immigrants to 97 percent of those from Guyana.

Source: South American Immigrants in the United States

Who gets to participate in “being”? Images of refugee camps, part 1

What opportunities do people in the camps have to leave, to work, to create a future for themselves? How much does humanity lose when they are, seemingly, excluded from participating in the “ongoing event of being”?

I also wonder what happens when these places start to become “home”?

Are subjects here socialized into despair and swayed more easily to support terrorism or are they motivated by their experience to become contributors to a better world for all humanity? How does Jesus show up here?


Singular Things

This is the first in a series of posts about images of refugee camps. For three earlier posts about images of refugees, click here, here, and here.

1 Zaatari Refugee Camp, Dezeen

You’ve already seen this photo, or one like it. It’s Zaatari refugee camp in northern Jordan, home to a large (though fluctuating) population of Syrian refugees—about 80,000 at the time of writing, according to the UNHCR data portal’s page on the camp, though it’s been higher. At the moment, Zaatari is probably the most famous refugee camp in the world, though there are many that are older, or bigger, or both. Politicians, diplomats, celebrities, and tourists visit it, and so do many, many journalists. That’s one of the reasons why I say that you’ve already seen this photo, or one like it: if you pay even the slightest bit of attention to the news media, your eyes have…

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Images of refugees, part 3: refugees at sea

Check with your grandparents before you decide what you think!

Singular Things

This is the third in a series of posts about images of refugees. For the first post, click here. For the second, click here.

Photographs of refugees on land often work to make both the refugees themselves and the landscapes they’re walking on interchangeable—so many huddled figures trudging across so many featureless bits of countryside. My last post explored some of the reasons for this: they’re partly to do with the choices that picture editors make, and partly to do with the standard formats of newspapers or news magazines and the cameras, lenses, and film that were typically used to take the photos that appeared in them. (Only rarely do refugees’ own views or choices come into it.) And in the post before that I wrote, more briefly, about the typical news photograph of a group of refugees in flight, burdened with their possessions. The aesthetic roots of…

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Immigrants, take America back!

The cover of Atlantic Magazine this month asks if America can put itself back together again. Convoluted thinker that I am, I wondered where this “again” came from and where (or who) some people want to take America “back” from (of course some of us know that it is on the brink).

When was America “together” in the first place?  If there was a time when this country was not on the brink, your ancestors may have missed it.  Some of mine were in “the home country” until the Gold Rush, and others didn’t come until the 20th Century.  On the other hand, maybe some of yours were already here.  That’s possible if you are from an old California or Texas family with a Spanish last name family, but then maybe “America” was about to invade them. Continue reading “Immigrants, take America back!”

Leadership, Jesus style

Tuesday nights in February I teach a class at a church in Oakland on “Liderazgo al Estilo de Jesús” (that’s Spanish for “Leadership Jesus’ style”).  My students are mostly tri-lingual.  And, one of the three, is likely to be one of three different dialects of Mam, a Mayan language from the highlands of Guatemala.

After my one week introduction to the story of Jesus’ leadership, I have invited guest Continue reading “Leadership, Jesus style”

They want to be leaders. Jesus has something to do with leading.

I will spend the next four Tuesday nights in Oakland with a group of immigrants from Guatemala who want to lead.  Our task together is to think about leadership in light of Jesus.

Where do they lead? If by “leader” we mean someone who shows the way for others, or someone who redefines the future, then these immigrants are already leading in multiple contexts.  Some might find it surprising to think that they lead on a global stage–even though many might consider them to be victims of globalization.  But their leadership extends beyond the local.  They lead their families who are scattered in Continue reading “They want to be leaders. Jesus has something to do with leading.”

Migração árabe ao Brasil e influencias transnacionais

Resumo escrito desde perspectiva brasileira: A imigração árabe no Brasil

Palavras chaves:

Nahda — literature and the rise of Arab Nationalism.
Mahjar — Arab Diaspora
Liga Andaluz — Organizada em São Paulo em 1933, com o objetivo de dar continuidade ao Renascimento Literário Árabe.

An area to explore:  Arab-Jews and the migration of Arabs and Jews to the Americas.

I began by watching this video by Zvi Ben-Dor Benite of NYU about the historical roots of the reality of Arab-Jews today.

Veja também  este site brasileiro sobre Judeus Árabes

Outros escritos:
Elias Farhat, o poeta líbano-brasileiro do arabismo

A poesia árabe moderna tem raízes no Brasil


Todos Santos Cuchumatán in Oakland, CA

A few weeks ago my student Mario invited me to the ninth birthday celebration for his church in Oakland where he is a leader in training.


The church is made up of immigrants from just one village in Guatemala:  Todos Santos Cuchumatán.

That Sunday at Iglesia Eben-Ezer, I thought about the meaning of the gospel in light of a gathering of 800 Mam speaking Christians in Oakland.  Their story signals a surprising and dramatic reversal in the direction of Christian mission and it should affect how we understand the gospel. Continue reading “Todos Santos Cuchumatán in Oakland, CA”

Refugees, the migration crisis and gifts from God

That picture this week of the body of a three year old Syrian boy washed up on the beach in Turkey broke our hearts.  2464When his family’s petition to migrate to Canada was turned down, they found hope only in using other means to try to move on.   Those (we) who had the means to help we did not reach out to them.  And now we feel guilty.  And everyone suffered a loss.

It seems like we are all afraid to lose something by accepting refugee immigration.  For those of us who are already stable here, it feels like a loss and, in the context of global terrorism, it can make us more vulnerable.  We sometimes fear immigrants exploit our prosperity and that we will lose our “way of life”.

The loss, of course, is greater for refugees. Continue reading “Refugees, the migration crisis and gifts from God”