Category: Politics

Portrait of a textile worker-full

Recently, a friend brought this portrait to my attention.  The portrait portrays a young textile worker in Bangladesh.

As the artist describes:

The project began with a massive campaign to get the labels. Thousands of people responded painstakingly cutting out garment tags one by one. I used the labels in numerous ways to create the image. For example, text on a contrasting background was used as a gradation, text borders were ironed back leaving a unified block of tiny words to form specific tones, names were used as segments in a line and combined with others like lines in a drawing. From twenty feet away, the composition is a representational image of a remote place. As you move closer, the illusionistic devices dissolve into labels as intimately familiar as your own clothes.*

It reminds of a Turkish carpet factory I visited in Izmir, Tukey this summer.  When we entered the factory, there was a young girl sitting on the floor, weaving a carpet.  Essentially she was “on display.”  From then on, we saw only male “salesmen” espousing the glory of their factory and craft.  When someone asked about the “workers” the man brushed aside the question, and spoke of the willingness of the young girls to work for such a company. Everyone sensed he was “feeding us a line.”  It made most of us sick.

I was “fortunate” to see the inner workings of a foreign textile factory, but many people will not have that experience.  Thus, prophetic and brilliant art like this is vital to awakening/reclaiming America’s consciousness.


Terese Agnew © 2005

* Portrait of a textile worker (for more detailed pictures)

The photograph was taken in 2002 by Charles Kernaghan, the Director of the National Labor Committee on an undercover visit to a factory in Bangladesh.


In an article that may surprise some, Christianity Today recently proclaimed a promising start for Obama’s faith-based office.

Initially, traditional readers may be skeptical of the evangelical magazine’s positive endorsement of Obama’s initial religious platform.  However, I see CT’s position as nothing more than “holding to their values.”  In the article, CT praises the many evangelical leaders sitting at the Obama table.  Also, the article points out that many of Obama’s stances maintain the status quo; which could be labeled as friendly to evangelical beliefs.


I wonder…is CT shifting into a new niche?  Do they have a “new” audience in mind?  Does the magazine desire to be sen as more moderate on the religious landscape?

OR…are evangelicals (and not CT) in a period of transition?  Has the evangelical base become the home of “reluctant Republicans” (Rick Warren’s term)?  As one of my professors, David Steinmetz writes in the News & Observer: Reluctant Republicans “agree with Republicans on abortion and gay rights, but agree with Obama on other issues, such as care of the environment, global warming, the AIDS epidemic, world hunger, and even (gasp!) the more just distribution of wealth in an often unjust and greedy world.”  Is CT using the new administration as a bridge to connect with a changing demographic?

As Inauguration Day approaches,  conservative and evangelical Christians continue to fume over Pastor Rick Warren’s decision to participate in Barack Obama’s Inauguration.

But what are they so mad about?  Why are they so angry and put-off by Warren’s role in the historic day?  I thought prayer…the power of prayer….were central to evangelical belief?  Why then, are they less than enthused to offer prayer for the person who job certainly requires it?

Pastor Warren is doing the only thing he can do: pray for the President of the United States.  As Warren wrote, “Prayers are not to be sermons, speeches, position statements nor political posturing. They are humble, personal appeals to God.”

Christ calls all Christians to pray without ceasing….to pray for all….to pray for our friends and family…to pray for our enemies and those with whom we disagree with.

Perhaps we should heed these words Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s, Life Together:

I can no longer condemn or hate a brother [or sister] for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble he causes me. His face that hitherto may have been strange and intolerable to me is transformed through intercession into the countenance of a brother for whom Christ died.

“Obama’s new pastor dilemma”

Remember Jeremiah Wright?  No?  Well, don’t bother trying to recall the pastor from Chicago.  Rev. Wright, Obama’s former controversial minister is off the hook.  Enter new “pastor of controversy:” Rev. Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Southern California.

Before he even officially sets foot in the Oval Office, Obama has already upset some on the Left with one of his inauguration day participants. Specifically, Obama’s selection of Pastor Rick Warren to deliver his inaugural invocation has ruffled the feathers of gay and liberal advocates who perceive Warren to be a homophobic, anti-gay, leader of the Evangelical Religious Right.

Obama’s selection is interesting on many fronts.  In fact, I think the Obama-Warren inauguration connection raises more questions than it does offer a definitive statement of the pair’s relationship.

– For Obama: Is he merely “throwing a bone” to Evangelicals?  Or is this a sincere attempt to reach out to those Christians in the Evangelical circle whom the Left traditionally fails to “capture?”

– For Warren: Is he participating in Obama’s inaguaration because doing so is the “American” thing to do?  (Who would pass up a chance to be a part of history?)  However, Obama and Warren admittedly disagree on many social and moral issues.  Most notably, the pair falls on opposite sides of California’s recent Constitutional Amendment that bans gay marriage.  Warren supported the ban, while Obama opposed it.  Does Warren’s “services” represent an endorsement of Obama policy?

During this fervent political election season I am confident that commercials and flyers have flooded your television and mailbox.  It seems impossible to turn on the news without hearing the latest from the campaign trails.  Candidates’ quotes and sound bites reverberate at work, at school, at home, and at the gym.  There is no escape.

For months, we’ve heard Senator Obama call for a change of, and hope in, Washington.  “Let us restore our hope in Washington by changing Washington,” his sound bite relays over and over.  Likewise, Senator McCain has repeatedly promoted, “Country First;” an obvious plea for voters and politicians to place the good ol’ USA at the top of their list.

However, I am not convinced that either of these battle cries is faithful to our Christian calling.  Is our “hope” really found in Washington?  Should we really put our country “first?”  Would it not be more faithful for us Christians to alter each slogan?

Rather than locating our hope in Washington and the government, let us rest our hope in the Lord (Ps. 33:22, 39:7, 130:5, 146:5).  Instead of “Country first,” how about, “God first” (Mt. 6:33).  In place of a world where we seek our hope in a finite government body, why not put our hope in an infinite God.  Rather than striving to make our country our top priority, why not first seek the Lord, His calling, and His Kingdom.  Just think of how different the would be if we strove to live into, and out of, the hope that comes through God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness.  Imagine what would happen if we sought first to follow Christ’s example of love and service to our neighbors and enemies.  What if…just what if!…the sound bites and campaign slogans repeated, “Hope in the Lord.  God first.”  Just imagine…

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