October 19th, 2011, by Sean Nixon

In a previous post, I wrote about how a two-year-old child in China was the victim of a terrible hit-and-run incident. News reports now state that the precious child is brain dead, after being in critical condition for hours.

Many will hear of this news and begin to debate China’s seemingly apathetic attitude when tragedy occurs right in front of its citizens. While writing earlier on this topic, I discovered that what raised many eyebrows the most wasn’t just that this little one had been hit by a vehicle — twice mind you. It was the fact that close to 20 people had walked right past the child.

At first, it seemed as though the Chinese citizens themselves were to blame for the perceived apathy taking place across the country. But, when taking a closer look, I found the real culprit in the matter: the Chinese government’s ill-conceived policies.

Reports indicate those wanting to step in and help in the midst of a tragic circumstance are looked at suspiciously by law enforcement officials as potential suspects in a crime and not as individuals simply looking to help as first responders. As such, many Chinese citizens would rather let someone go without assistance than be wrongly accused of incidents or injuries for which they weren’t responsible. In fact, right now in China, there are no laws that protect individuals for being “Good Samaritans.”

Reports online even tell the tale of a Chinese taxi driver who while trying to be a Good Samaritan to a man claiming to be very ill was himself arrested for not having proper license for his vehicle. The culture of suspicion and blame are so rampant in China that the people are paralyzed with fear to step up and help.

This is worse than just bad policy; efforts like these can destroy the human spirit. The principles of giving and compassion are innately tied to us, and having laws that are designed to prevent either is simply wrong.

This tragedy will remain in the public eye for quite some time and force the Chinese government to take a hard look at their repressive regime. In the meantime, officials will have to bear the burden of their policies having such an impact on this child’s life and family. I pray they make that change soon.

October 19th, 2011, by Sean Nixon

Here’s a classic parable told from a modern day event in China:

Recently, a two-year-old child was the victim of a hit-and-run accident — twice.

What was even more shocking was the startling fact that instead of men and women immediately rushing to the child’s aid, the two-year-old was simply ignored, several times, by over a dozen people!

So, just imagine, all the “business people,” “city folk” and “social elite” walking by, and not one of them lifted a finger to help. Finally, a sanitation worker took it upon himself to aid the helpless child.

While Chinese media outlets wrote about the level of moral ineptitude shown by the scores of passersby that day, it made me think about the story of the Good Samaritan. In the Bible, the Good Samaritan is the story of the man who helped another man who was hurt, when no one else would.

Ministers and preachers often use the story to illustrate how those who consider themselves to be religious can oftentimes fall short of the actual spiritual teachings found in the Bible. For others, the story is also used as a parable that one’s blessings may come from unexpected sources.

In this modern day parable, we see that this child was vulnerable — to the elements, the conditions of being hit by a vehicle and, worst of all, the chilling amount of apathy when compassion was needed the most.

Of all of the sources from which this child could have received help, it was in fact one person, a garbage man. Much like the Samaritan of the Bible, this Samaritan in China was arguably the person who many people on any given day would look past and disregard; yet he wound up being this child’s only source of help.

It’s amazing to me how stories from so long ago can still have such a strong message today.

So, perhaps the story of the Good Samaritan in China is a serious reminder to us all. One – even though we may need help sometimes, people can still be reluctant to assist us. And secondly, recognize that when in need, one’s help may come from an unlikely source. These are lessons we would all be wise to remember.

October 17th, 2011, by Jeremy Freed

As a blogger whose job it is to find cool things and share them with you, I have a particularly high degree of respect for whoever runs The Impossible Cool, a Tumblr devoted to iconic images of stylish people, past and present. The usual suspects are all accounted for: Steve McQueen, Miles Davis, Frank Sinatra; but there are also plenty more unusual tributes, like Vincent Cassel and Robert Altman. There’s not much to the blog, except for cool pictures of people looking cool, which is enough for me.

If you like these, you should also check out Nerd Boyfriend. It’s even more esoteric and breaks down each person’s look in even more detail.

October 16th, 2011, by Jeremy Freed

I watched the new Ryan Gosling movie Drive recently, and while I found the film’s spaghetti western-inspired dialogue and plot left something to be desired, the aesthetic of the film was perfect. From the hot pink 1980s-style opening credits, to the perfectly noir neon-lit cityscape, to the moody, understated soundtrack, there was plenty to appreciate. Best of all, though, was Ryan Gosling’s costume, which, at the risk of sounding overly emphatic, was icon material.

A quick foray into the land of Internet-style blogging reveals I’m not the only one taken by “The Driver”‘s attire. GQ‘s Web site features not one, but two stories on the look, from Gosling’s custom Patek Philippe watch, to a detailed interview with the film’s costume designer about the process of putting the actor’s wardrobe together. The film fashion blog “Clothes on Film” also has a good piece on the movie and its costumes.

The most striking element of Gosling’s costume was by far his satin, scorpion-emblazoned souvenir jacket, which, according to GQ, was a custom creation inspired by Gosling himself. The kicker? For those who really, really want to get the look, you can order your very own replica. Too bad they won’t ship in time for Halloween…

October 11th, 2011, by Sean Nixon

Ever go out to the movies and think to yourself, hey there aren’t a lot of positive films out there that address people of faith?

Well, Stephen Kendrick is making sure movie goers have a choice when they want to see films that speak to them not only as individuals, but persons of faith.

The Albany, GA minister, along with film director and brother Alex, have been in the filmmaking business just a short while, but their impact is creating buzz around the movie scene. The projects are produced by Sherwood Pictures, the media branch of the Albany-based Sherwood Baptist Church.

The brothers’ latest film, Courageous, has been doing well at the box office and certainly giving movie goers an alternative choice when it comes to films.

In movie terms, what the Kendrick brothers and church have been able to do is nothing short of extraordinary. With just $20,000, the brothers produced their first motion picture Flywheel with a cast and crew of dedicated church volunteers. What started with a brief viewing at a local theater, turned into a six-week stay at the box office. Not bad for a first time project.

Now, with four films under the company’s belt, Courageous looks to be on the rise with audience excitement and studio credibility. As a result, their ministry has a much larger impact on a wider scale. Box office estimates place the film at $9 million nationwide.

Much like the celebrated work from Sundance Film Festivals, Sherwood Pictures allows for an independent filmmaker to take a project that may not have a Hollywood budget to Hollywood hit.

Critics have hailed Courageous as a family film of substance and credits it for its message of inspiration. If you’re looking for a a film that satisfies the mind and spirit, this may be the film for you. Be sure to check it out.

October 7th, 2011, by Sean Nixon

Katie Davis isn’t a household name, but she’s found what many consider to be the key to life: giving to others.

The 22-year-old philanthropist and mother was just like any other girl. She had friends, a family and a dream. But when she heard the call from God, she did something different. She went big.

At the ripe age of 15, Davis told her parents that she wanted to pursue mission work after graduating high school. Her parents weren’t overly thrilled by the idea at first, but they knew their daughter had a mind of her own.

On an overseas trip to Uganda, Davis fell in love with the people and was hooked. She knew Uganda would be her new home for a long time to come. After living in the country and seeing the level of need of the children she saw, she knew she wanted to make a difference in their lives.

To say Davis is in love with the children of Uganda would be an understatement. She’s crazy in love with them. In fact, she was so enamored with the children there that she adopted 13 of the children them as her own.

If that wasn’t enough, Davis got started on giving back even more. She began Amazima Ministries, a non-profit in Uganda designed to feed, educate and encourage orphaned children and the vulnerable in Uganda.

The organization receives its funding from generous supporters from all across the world. She also chronicles her trials and triumphs online through her blog, and recently released her first book, Kisses from Katie. She attributes her passion for mission work, the children of Uganda and the non-profit work she’s doing as her calling from God.

She says along with the work she does, she also spreads the message of Jesus. Katie’s story is tremendous. It speaks volumes about what her faith in God is allowing her to do and what we can do when we channel our efforts towards a larger calling in life.

October 7th, 2011, by Sean Nixon

Steve Jobs at MacWorld 2005 Photo: mylerdude

Steve Jobs was a bright light in the world of technology. He is certainly one of the men who had a significant impact on the world through his genius and innovation. In light of his passing, I decided to post an excerpt from  his commencement address  at Stanford University in 2005.

His story, in and of itself, truly is an inspiring and touching testimony of faith, conviction and perseverance. Something we could all use a bit more of in life.  Check out the entire transcript of his speech if you like or watch the video online.  -S.N.
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When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I’m fine now.

This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope it’s the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960′s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and Polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.”

STAFF & GUEST BLOG
October 7th, 2011, by Staff

“Anger is like liquid. It’s fluid. It’s like water. You put it in a container and it takes the shape of that container,” says Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee on our show this week. “We took our anger and put it into a peaceful container…That anger, in that peaceful container, propelled us.”

Today, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded jointly to Gbowee, Yemeni women’s rights activist Tawakkul Karma and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf – the first woman to win a free election in Africa.

The Nobel committee chose these women “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”

Both Gbowee and President Johnson Sirleaf have appeared on our show. Be sure to watch our conversations with them below and share your thoughts.

(View full post to see video)

(View full post to see video)

STAFF & GUEST BLOG
September 21st, 2011, by Staff

This companion e-book to the Tavis Smiley Reports primetime special—which examines the staggering dropout rate among young Black males—picks up where the broadcast leaves off, with expanded discussion and resources needed to harness concern into collective and effective action. The volume is available on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

August 30th, 2011, by Sean Nixon

Recently, I was invited by a friend to attend a spiritual conference for single men and women. The conference was designed to help those living a single Christian life fellowship more with one another, grow spiritually and learn or share some tools to help them in their quest to be pleasing to God.

It was really a great experience. A lot of people opened up and really shared some of their concerns and challenges about being a single Christian. Throughout the conference, there were a wealth of speakers on dating and relationships, forgiveness and parenting, as well as some very candid tips on how to live a spiritual life while being a single person. Here are just a handful of the tips shared.

1. Find someone to help you remain encouraged. Talk to someone who takes your spiritual concerns seriously. There is definitely a healing effect in talking to others who care about your concerns. Also, look to find those who are walking the same spiritual path, who are willing to be a friend to you along your journey. Most people are willing to help you if you let them know you’re in need.

2. Pray daily. It may sound easy enough, but those who haven’t given it a try should know — prayer works! Prayer allows one to release the challenges or concerns being faced and place them into the hands of a greater power. If you’re looking to overcome stress in life, remain steadfast in your daily walk or just seek to maintain a positive spirit in everyday circumstances, prayer is the key.

3. Read and study the scriptures. To borrow a phrase I once read, “there is no substitute for reading the Bible.” The Bible will help you remain grounded and has many stories of inspiration,  discipline and direction. As you read, you’ll come across messages of encouragement, endurance and, sometimes, even sacrifice. Reading and studying the Bible will help you develop in ways unimaginable.

4. Stay involved with activities. Staying busy can help you get outside of your own head and reality for a while. Whether it’s a recreational event, sports league, small group or other entity, staying involved keeps you active and level-headed. And that’s the best way to be when living a spirit-filled life.

5. Minister to someone else’s needs. Believe it or not, single Christians have a responsibility to take care of certain needs of the church. Focusing on the needs of others helps to put your own concerns in perspective and allows you to be a blessing to someone else. Whether it’s assisting seniors at church, helping youth and teens or visiting others in the hospital, remember to care for the “least of these.”

So, is being a single Christian too hard? No, if you implement the right tools. Putting all of these suggestions into practice may take time, but given the level of spiritual growth attendees at the conference were looking to attain, I wouldn’t be surprised if these individuals begin teaching classes of their own sometime soon.

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