Saturday, November 15, 2003

Alternative giving

I was struck by this paragraph (p. 98) in Week 5 of The Artist's Way describing what Cameron calls the Virtue Trap:
Many of us have made a virtue out of deprivation. We have embraced a long-suffering artistic [or whatever other area you might substitute] anorexia as a martyr's cross. We have used it to feed a false sense of spirituality grounded in being good, meaning superior.
I've been wrestling with what it means to live abundantly in a way that honors the earth and the lives of people around the world. What does it mean to live a life of simplicity yet a life that is joyful and not bound by rules and a sense of superiority?

Today I went to a presentation about the Lutheran Stand With Africa campaign working on the issues of HIV/AIDS and hunger. It was a very hopeful presentation about people in Kenya and Uganda, particularly women, forming successful farming and fishing co-operatives and of programs to assist AIDS orphans. The presenter also brought some fair trade products with her.

As the holiday season ramps up, there are many ways to give gifts that also directly benefit people in need of economic opportunities. For example, Wendy and co. have already purchased more than four $500 "Knitting Baskets" (two llamas and two sheep) through Heifer International. The list below is only a partial listing of ways to celebrate the holidays and give alternative gifts. It is pretty much Christian/Lutheran based, but there are plenty of non-religiously affiliated organizations out there, too.

ELCA World Hunger Appeal Alternative Gifts Catalog, including water projects, farming animals and seeds, refugee camp assistance, etc.

SERRV International, including coffee, chocolate, gift baskets, and gift items.

Alternatives for Simple Living, "encouraging celebrations that reflect conscientious ways of living."

Bread for the World, including a letter writing campaign to Congress to fund the Millennium Challenge Account (anti-poverty programs)and HIV/AIDS initiatives.

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