02.14.11

Tunisia, Egypt … Italy?

Posted in culture, Politics at 1:15 am

Italian politics is something that I don’t begin to understand. It’s complicated, bulky, and it seems once a person or a party gets in power, they rarely give it up easily.

Silvio Berlusconi has been in the news lately. He already has a reputation for being a playboy (not bad for a 74-year-old). He owns many newspapers and tv stations, meaning there are few independent reports about him or his government. He’s a billionaire. And, most recently, he’s accused of having sex with a minor.

Yesterday, all across Italy, women gathered in the piazzas calling for his dismissal. They gathered to protest against the shame that he has brought this country, and to protest against the way he treats women. The thing that strikes me the most is how unapologetic he is about it all. He laughs it off when someone draws attention to yet another sexist comment.

I was talking to a friend yesterday, and we were discussing the rallies that took place. And she said something that I have heard repeated on countless blogs and in many other conversations about this man. Despite his blunders, she said, she doubts that he will ever resign or be forced to resign or even face a trial. He’s too powerful, too rich, and he’s surrounded himself with too many powerful people that owe him favors.

I’m not so sure. Tunisia was first. Egypt next. Now is it Italy’s turn?

Update: 2/14/2011 – This morning Berlusconi called the demonstrations a “shame” and a “fascist maneuver.”

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02.08.11

Truth Bubbles Up

Posted in church, Newsletters at 4:11 am

Several years ago, our team decided to join an ecumenical group of pastors and leaders of other churches in our area. There’s a wide range of attendees: several Catholics, a methodist minister, a pastor from the apostolic church, and even some Romanian Orthodox priests. It’s a motley crew, and sometimes I wonder if there is anything at all that we have in common.

An ecumenical week of prayer is held at the end of January each year. This year we were asked to host one of the nights at our church’s meeting place, as well as participate in a modified Catholic mass at a nearby church.

I was quite surprised when the priest who was organizing the mass sent me an email explaining that he had invited two Mormon missionaries to come and speak as well.

Overall, I would say that the average Anconetano looks at Protestants with a little suspicion. There are so many misconceptions, and it seems like a lot of what they know about us is based on a half-truth that they overheard long ago. Opportunities for us to go to them and explain what we believe can only be a good thing.

So when we found out we were sharing the microphone with Mormons, I was concerned. Not because I didn’t want to debate or was afraid of getting backed into a corner. Mostly because I didn’t want any more confusion about what we believe.

The big night came. We talked a bit about our church’s history and how we ended up here in Ancona. Marcus led everyone in a few songs. Kyle shared some thoughts on a passage from Isaiah. The Mormons were invited to do the same.

And that’s when I noticed that the crowd didn’t seem to happy to hear what they had to say. A couple of questions about some of the stranger Mormon beliefs were brought up, and it quickly became clear the crowd wasn’t buying it.

It seemed that I really didn’t have to “debate” anyone. I spoke the truth about what we believed as simply as possible. And somehow God caused the truth to bubble up to the surface.
My prayer is that we can continue to be God’s spokesmen here in Ancona, and for truth to always rise to the top.