Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Book is Out!

Dear Readers,

The Fullness of Time in a Flat World is now available for purchase on the publisher's website. It will be awhile before Amazon.com and others have it, but I'd be thrilled if you could check it out and let me know what you think in the comment sections on this blog or on the Facebook fan page (click at left).


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A New Localism?

A friend tipped me off to a Newsweek column on "the new localism," by writer and geography buff Joel Kotkin. In the piece, Kotkin says, among other things that
After decades of frantic mobility and homogenization, we are seeing a return to placeness, along with more choices for individuals, families, and communities.
It seems that attachments to local places are even starting to trump desires for career advancement and higher salaries.

Kotkin's most significant evidence comes in this passage:
Yet in reality Americans actually are becoming less nomadic. As recently as the 1970s as many as one in five people moved annually; by 2006, long before the current recession took hold, that number was 14 percent, the lowest rate since the census starting following movement in 1940. Since then tougher times have accelerated these trends, in large part because opportunities to sell houses and find new employment have dried up. In 2008, the total number of people changing residences was less than those who did so in 1962, when the country had 120 million fewer people.
What's going on here? The recession and real estate market certainly put the brakes on mobility, and work-at-home technology is making home-based workplaces more possible. But are we really seeing a deeper attachment to local places? I hope so, and I hope Kotkin is right.

Localism can be a healthy response to too-much globalism.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Turkey 2, Armenia 0

So Armenia lost to Turkey on the soccer field, and no major violence broke out, which makes sense, since the Armenians were outnumbered in Turkey and would hardly be expected to riot. An interesting English-language report by an Armenian writer gives the full story from an Armenian point of view. Apparently the Turks didn't sell any tickets but only allowed invited guests to go, which allowed them to vet the fans beforehand: no crazy nationalist Turks allowed. It seems the Armenians were happy to leave without getting beaten up.

Meanwhile, we'll see where the diplomatic thaw between the two sides may lead. The president of Armenia made a first-ever visit to Turkish soil in advance of the game, which was a minor breakthrough, and could lead to further negotiations. The two sides will have plenty of side to chat together next summer, since both have been eliminated from the World Cup competition. Who will they cheer for? The U.S.?

Given the U.S. team's recent performance, clinching the top spot in its North American qualifying group, they may have plenty to cheer for. I'm still rooting for Bahrain to make it on November 14.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Soccer Diplomacy?

Tonight, Armenia's national soccer team will play against Turkey, in Turkey, for World Cup qualifying (amazingly, they are in the same qualifying group). This is a dicey situation, because the Armenian people suffered horribly during World War I under Turkish Ottoman rule. They argue that it was genocide, but the Turkish government bristles at the charge and throws its weight against anyone who supports it (including the U.S. government).  Political leaders on both sides are trying to keep violent fans at bay for tonight's match in Bursa. A Washington Post story suggests that the game is encouraging a diplomatic thaw between the two governments.

I'd love to do a research project on the "soccer leads to peace" thesis, a rival to the Democratic Peace theory popularized by Michael Doyle and the Golden Arches Theory popularized by Tom Friedman. There's probably research out there already testing whether global sports (e.g., the Olympics) contribute to peaceful diplomacy. It's a cliche, for sure. But is there evidence that a sporting event can bring political rivals together? The news from Turkey and Armenia suggests there is.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

World Cup Update: Bahrain 0, New Zealand 0

An update on an earlier post about my hope that the Bahrain national soccer team might qualify for next summer's World Cup: From the news stories and video highlights, it looks like my favorite little team from my favorite little Middle Eastern country missed a bunch of chances to win against New Zealand. After this 0 to 0 scoreless tie, they'll play again on November 14, starting at 5 AM Eastern Time. If Bahrain can score a goal on the road, they'll have the tie-breaking advantage. If neither team scores, they'll go to overtime and then penalty kicks. It could be a nail-biter.


Beyond Smashing Things

Julie Clawson, one of my favorite bloggers right now, recently posted a thoughtful piece on "Smashing Economic Idols" that raises some interesting questions. When fellow Christians tell you to be careful about loving your neighbor, because it could lead to socialism, that's probably a sign that loyalties to an economic system trump loyalties to the Gospel.

But I hope we can get beyond such violent and negative imagery and try to positively motivate people to love God and their neighbor. One of my goals in writing the book was to sketch out alternative practices that demonstrate what it looks like to live hopefully and to live "love-fully" (is that word?). I think people are already doing this all over the world: they are creatively and joyfully creating political, economic, and cultural alternatives. And these alternatives demonstrate what it looks like to love God and love your neighbor through your daily life.

Our family, for the first time, is really getting into home gardening and farmers' markets. We're really enjoying the many conversations we have each week at the downtown Canton farmers' market. We've fallen in love with the apples and peaches from Arrowhead Orchard--and we really like the people there. We've also fallen in love with the house bread from Broken Rocks Cafe and Bakery--sold out of a stall at the market. It's amazing! We loved the bread so much that we decided to eat at the restaurant, and we had a wonderful lunch there two weeks ago. The couple that started Broken Rocks have young children and are originally from Michigan.

We're getting to know our neighbors, and we're getting more connected to our local area. It's fun and joyful; it's better for the earth; and it's living against the grain of the System. I love what Hendrik Berkhof says about resisting the system:

“All resistance and every attack against the gods of this age will be unfruitful, unless the church . . . demonstrates in her life and fellowship how men can live freed from the Powers. We can only preach the manifold wisdom of God to Mammon if our life displays that we are joyfully freed from his clutches.”