Author Archive

Thoughts on Ferguson

A ruling, a reaction. We’ve seen this before. Violence, fires, businesses destroyed. Besides these obvious consequences, the negative effect of the Ferguson riots is that they will further polarize the country. Watching the riots on television will elicit very different reactions. I can imagine one group seeing the fires and then thinking of the family [...]

East Africa: A Filthy, Beautiful Place

On September 15, 2014, my two-week, three-country East Africa trek began. Though much of my previous activity in Tanzania had been off the cuff, these final two weeks were planned even before I left the U.S.–thus my departing flight from north-neighboring Kenya. This grand finale tour of East Africa was to include all the countries. [...]

The NFL is the New Sheriff in Town

There are two common responses to the Adrian Peterson suspension. One goes like this: “What?! Others players have done far worse and have gotten far less.” The other side says, “Good. He got what he deserved.” But both sides take the phenomenal leap of assuming that the NFL should be in charge of distributing justice–even [...]

Goodbye, East African Village School

As a boy in northern Minnesota, we’d drive down to “the cities” on special occasions. On the way, we’d often stop halfway at a city called Brainerd. Back then, you had to drive through the city because there was no bypass. Mom-n-pop shops through downtown Brainerd were the roadside attractions, and a McDonald’s or gas [...]

The Real Tragedy of #pointergate

Last week, KSTP Minneapolis ran a story on their website about Mayor Betsy Hodges and her get out the vote involvement in North Minneapolis. They weren’t congratulating her. Rather, they received a tip about a photograph taken at the scene of the canvasing. In it, Hodges and a community member (who also happened to be a convicted [...]

The Saga of Getting Electricity to an African Village

I rolled into the green, rolling highlands of interior Tanzania with two suitcases of computers and a mission to put them to use. The founder of the school at which I arrived had been telling me that electricity was always being worked on, but costs, government bureaucracy and favoritism, and the logistics of getting the [...]

The Truth About School Teachers

I recently filled in for a 3rd grade teacher at a St. Paul, Minnesota school. Her colleague, the other 3rd grade teacher, was a middle-aged woman with greying, thin hair down to her shoulders and business-like demeanor despite being dressed as a farmer in overalls for Halloween week. As soon as I arrived, this woman [...]

Should You Circumcise Your Son?

Circumcision is an issue that triggers sharp and divided responses because it addresses the most personal and deep aspects of our lives: religion, parenthood, and sexuality. I recently came across this piece that broke down the arguments for and against the procedure–slicing off the foreskin of the penis–in an interesting and thoughtful manner. (The author [...]

The Spiritual Warzone at the African Church Service

Terrifying screams and cries of suffering and mass hysteria. This wasn’t what I imagined would happen in a church. But this wasn’t church as I was used to. It was a worship running the gamut from celebration and joy… …to the pits of spiritual and mental anguish: You will probably be disturbed by the descriptions [...]

The Exorcism at the African Church Service

I heard a lot of yelling from across the street. I had been hearing it each weekend when trying to write on Sundays from the internet cafe in Iringa. I thought there was a political rally going on. It turned out to be a church. I crossed the dusty divided street to a warehouse-like space [...]