Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Bread for the World - Patterns and Hopes for My Life

I knew I would love this book as I read it's first four words: "My birth in Eugene, Oregon." I had already expected I would have much to learn from this text, but I have to be honest in noting my internal sympathy and sense of connection to the author for simply having been born in the same city where I was born. (Of course, he was born several decades before I.)

The Rising of Bread for the World: An Outcry of Citizens Against Hunger
by Arthur Simon.

I hoped this text would give me perspective not just on Bread for the World or other stories/narratives of hungry people, which Arthur Simon has addressed in numerous other publications (see his other books!) - but I hoped this text would give me perspective on how Arthur himself was shaped and directed to lead Bread for the World. I was not the least bit disappointed and was in fact, very thankful for this text.

I read this text as I flew home from advocacy and training meetings with the Genocide intervention network in Washington D.C. Without telling the story of GI-NET, I can summarize it's content in a few words - a few young persons teamed together and with a worthy cause and some "chance" encounters - along with due diligence - they have moved in a few short years to have a multi-million dollar budget, with D.C. offices, staff and thousands of active (and passive) agents for social change. Some of their situation has been "lucky" or "chance" as I noted above (not that the cause is not worthy of luck!) - and of course modern technologies and ways of being connected have driven their ability to move and shape change.

This text by Arthur Simon, tells his autobiographical and autoestablishment perspective on how his life and his calling merged with the decadal long shaping and growth of Bread for the World. I note this alongside GI-NET because it was important for me to remember that meteoric growth is not typical for any business, institution, political movement (and so on.) Bread for the World is about steady, long term, disciplined connection and advocacy that was not meteoric - but has been substantial and influential for millions of people and hundreds of programs/policies.

There were many things that stood out to me in this text by Arthur Simon - his grace and charity - his "stick-to-it-iveness" in things. Their willingness to take modest salaries to push the agenda. His writing. The fact that he took the time to write and that his writing was an important part of his being known and having influence, that was important. His passing notes on Oregonian life. His coming to terms with his Lutheran perspectives to be more willing to embrace a larger view of faith. His divorce and remarriage. His political advocacy that teamed with many persons, including his Congressional brother. His discipline. His steady, consistent willingness to work year-in and year-out to build advance the Kingdom by feeding the hungry. His notes on staff relationships. His adopted children. The connections between his life and mine are not "the same" - but there are many things about his life that are already similar to my life - and I hope to establish - for the sake of the good for the all - a kind of evangelical extension of a more peaceable and harmonious and "full" (i.e. not hungry) world for our future!

This book was inspirational and transformational for my perspective on where I am not in my own life.

A solid read.

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