Oil and Water

I woke this morning with the words “Oil and Water” on my mind.

Two days ago I accompanied a friend into the “oilpatch” in Eastern Oklahoma. I saw in action several wells and drilling rigs for natural gas and oil.

My friend said two or three times, “this is the best business in the world.” He is a prospector who finds land, looks at geology, mineral rights, and arranges for the drilling and pipelining. It is a fascinating business and lucrative when done with skill and perception and cunning.

But this morning I woke thinking about how much a well site costs each day. It can run into the tens of thousands . . . daily.

Meanwhile, around the world in developing nations, water drilling rigs are inching into the earth to find not gas or oil but water. There’s usually layers of coal, sand, rock, gas, water, and oil in most areas when you go down 2,500 feet. But what many villages around the world want is simply to find the water.

More than one billion people–one sixth of the world’s population–do not have sanitary water to drink and use for daily cooking and washing and living. In last night’s advent devotional with our family, we talked about how Jesus wants us to join him in praying for justice and acting on that prayer, to do our part to join God’s mission of turning the world back to himself. We talked about how we have much and one sixth of the world doesn’t even have clean water.

What can we do about it?

First, we can pray for justice in a world where we in America–even in some of our most poor communities–have clean water in 10 different taps in our houses while 500 in a village are dipping water from and sharing one dirty water source with cows. I’m not exaggerating.

Second, we can imagine. Imagine a world where there is justice. I complain about high costs of medical care (see my Brother’s post that I referred to last week), but we in fact do have great medical care in America and in developed nations, while in literally more than 100 nations, people don’t have access to basic health care that we enjoy. This is injust. Imagine a world without AIDS. Imagine a world where at least everyone has clean water? Isn’t there something wrong with a twenty-first century world that claims to be so advanced while a billion people can’t even drink water without fear of getting cholera and dehydrating and dying?

I’ll write more about experiences with water in different parts of the world and more things we can do later. I’ll tell you more about this Oil and Water proposal and I’ll tell you about organizations drilling water wells, ones we can support and hold up for others to support.

By Greg Taylor Posted in General

What is the number one killer in the world?

What is the number one killer in the world?

It depends on what world you’re living in.

The American Heart Association claims heart disease is the number one killer in the U.S., killing seven million yearly.

Cancer kills more in England and Wales than heart disease, according to the BBC.

AIDS is the number one killer in South Africa. Nearly a third of the population are said to have HIV or AIDS.

WHO estimates 1.3 million yearly are killed by malaria. All of my family members have had malaria, and we survived, but we were wealthy enough (even as missionaries!) to buy necessary drugs. We prayed a lot but I want to be both honest and faithful with what “saved” us–was it prayer, the drugs, or both?

Now for the kicker. What is the number one killer in the world?

Common diarrhoeal diseases. 1.8 million people die every year from diarrhoeal diseases (including cholera); 90 percent are children under five years old, mostly in developing countries, according to WHO.

In the coming days, I’ll talk about what can and is being done about it, including a new proposal I’m planning to make to an oil company.

By Greg Taylor Posted in General

Busch Stadium

For St. Louis Cards fans, this slide show will bring back memories. It did for me–of times our family went to Busch and watched Lou Brock and Joe Torre.

Busch Demolition Slide Show

While you’re at it, see Joe Torre’s effort to reach youth and make changes in domestic abuse.

Safe at Home

Appropriately, a Cards fan drove the first wrecking ball into Busch stadium. Same fans who applauded the Astros when they won the National League.

Went with the family and Clint Davis’s family two summers ago on the last pilgrimage to Busch Stadium. The new stadium will be nice. Early family vacations to St. Louis included trips to Sportsman Park, where the Cardinals played before Busch.

You can’t understand why cities and teams build new stadiums . . . until you walk into a new classic stadium. For example, Jill grew up going to games in the Astrodome. Sure, the scoreboard was cool, the atmosphere, well, sonic, groovy, Astroturf (where it got its name), but the aura at the new Minute Maid Park is incredible, retro, gives you the feeling you have stepped back in time but can still get nachos and clean restrooms.

By Greg Taylor Posted in General

Christian Radio and NPR

One news item: two completely different perspectives, and one example why we ought to ingest our news from a variety of sources:

Air One report Monday, Dec 19: coverage assumes the visit alone is the story–Vice president Dick Cheney goes to Iraq and Afghanistan and visits the troops and encourages them.

NPR report Monday, Dec 19: coverage with several angles–Cheney quotes about what would make a good government that would unite factions in Iraq and a quote from an opposition leader to the new parliament, who said the governing body is a bogus front for American occupation.

We have too much access to news to lock and load on one source. Please turn the dial occasionally, search new sources of news on the internet, change the channel to a different station.

My daughters love the Christian radio, and a lot of the radio is targeted for young people and a positive “safe” for the family alternative, so I understand it’s not attempting to bring hard news . . . that’s why we need to hear from different sources.

By Greg Taylor Posted in General

God’s Politics, Jim Wallis, and Sojourners

If you’re like me, you’ve been inspired by the movement of Christians re-staking political ground previously ceded to one of two political parties. I heard one leader of this movement, Jim Wallis, speak earlier this year, and I immediately bought his book, God’s Politics: Why the right is wrong and the left doesn’t get it.

The book, the movement, Wallis, and his Sojourners Magazine, cuts both ways, through both major American political parties, calling Dems to remember the faith roots of their social programs and Reps to remember that war, capital punishment, and poverty are moral issues in addition to abortion and gay marriage. Of the many ideas you may be interested in, the complete life ethic is one that I think is most right.

My buddies, David & Robbie Hutchens and Don Moore, invited me along to hear Wallis, and to them I’m grateful for the ongoing conversation we have about making our faith “more political” in the sense that all faith must be enfleshed in practical action in our communities, and if it’s not, we must wonder if it’s really faith that we have.

Book Review: God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It by David Hutchens and Greg Taylor

By Greg Taylor Posted in General

Water, Frozen Pipes, and the Sun

A week ago, Jill got up at 4 am to go to the bathroom, came back to bed and said this: “Greg, the water doesn’t come on in the bathroom or kitchen.”

“What?!” I came out of bed like I’d been shocked with a cattle prod. When it’s 10 degrees outside and your wife tells you these things at 4 am, you don’t hit snooze.

I rush around and check every tap in the house. Drips, then nothing. Panic. Pipes are frozen. Where’s the leak? Will they burst?

I go back to bed and lay down to think. Jill: “What are we going to do?” Me: “I really don’t know.”

After thinking, I bolt again out of bed to check outside for the value. Is it intact? Can I shut it off? Should I? There’s a line going down the wall next to the hot water heater/heater area. Oh no.

I feel the wall and sure enough it feels wet to me. Pipe burst inside the wall. I stew, I wonder who I can call at 4:30 am. What can I do? I think of tearing out the sheetrock. Should I go ahead and tear out the wall?

I try to turn off the value. It breaks. New value–but it’s frozen tight and breaks when I bear down on it to move it.

There’s a second line on the wall, higher, looks like it’s coming from the ceiling.

Then, I notice the line near the ceiling looks mysteriously like the cord for the attic in shadow form. I stretch above the van to nudge the cord, and the line on the wall moves. Not water. One line down.

What about the other line? I felt it again. Felt wet to me. Then I turn around and see the antennae of the van and give it a good boing boing bump. The line on the wall–the “wet” line–dances on the wall.

At 5 am I wake up my brother, who built our house. “Hey!” He answers. “Sorry to wake you up,” I say. “Our water’s off. Not sure what to do.”

“Uh, well, it’s off everywhere?” Brent says.

“Yes, no water. I’ve called the city. They say nothing’s broken out this direction.”

“It’s probably a yard line–it got so cold it froze. It’s probably nothing in the house,” Brent says.

“I don’t see any leaks so you’re probably right,” I say.

I thank him and we hang up.

And wait for the sun to come up.

At 6 am the water comes back on.

Our mistake was waking up at 4 am to go to the bathroom.

By Greg Taylor Posted in General

Simplifying Christmas & holiday movies

Our immediate and extended family, like many of yours, is on a journey to celebrate Christmas more simply.

I want you to know about a helpful resource for simplifying holidays and rediscovering the sacred in them. Nancy Twigg wrote a book and has a web site by the same name Celebrate Simply. I’ve worked with her on an article for Wineskins about new ways to simplify and rediscover the sacred in Christmas. Keith Brenton, our web expert, has posted the piece today on Wineskins home page. It’s worth a read and her web site worth a visit.

Christmas the way it was meant to be by Nancy Twigg

Movies our family anticipates most in the season:
Syriana – Jill
Narnia – Jacob, 6
Yours, Mine, and Ours – Ashley, 12
Cheaper by the Dozen 2 – Anna, 9
Walk the Line, Greg

By Greg Taylor Posted in General

Now is the time to get daily books for 2006

Advent is a good time to get your daily devotional book(s) and calender for 2006. This helps us prepare for the year ahead and how we will spend our time more aware of God’s presence and work in the world and in our lives.

Here are three that I’ll draw from in 2006.

Revovare Spiritual Formation Bible
Richard J. Foster, Dallas Willard, Walter Brueggemann, Eugene H. Peterson are four of the heavyweights on this 2000+ page Bible. It’s NRSV version that turns our approach to scripture toward spiritual formation. “When I first began writing about spiritual formation many years ago, the soul hunger in people was so very obvious and the resources were so very meager. Through the years there has remained a huge gap . . . the gap I refer to is the lack of a resource for approaching the Bible through the lens of Christian spiritual formation. We hope that gap has finally been filled.”–Richard J. Foster, author of Celebration of Discipline

Operation World
This is one that Jill will use most with our children, to teach them geography and culture while praying for poor nations (and all nations) of the world and how they might be shaped by the God who truly rules every nation.

Sacred Space
This is my home page because I want to be greeted on the web with a prayerful world view, not a news view. I’ll get enough of that throughout the day both local and global. MSN’s world view has been weighed in the balance and found wanting. I appreciate news feeds later in the day, but we ought to seriously consider how we set our home pages, because this is our portal into life “out there,” who God is, about humanity, and for many gives the first glance outward, shaping how we imagine the world. I used the Sacred Space 2005 book some this year but will likely only use the web site in 2006.

By Greg Taylor Posted in General

Prayerwalking

Years ago, one of my mentors, Mike Cope, took a group of Harding guys around Searcy, Arkansas in a van, stopping at grocery stores to watch and pray for people walking in, to talk about churches and their impact or lack of impact on the community, and if there’d been honky tonks in Searcy, I’m sure we’dve stopped at one of those to pray for the people coming in and out.

My buddies, Mark Moore and John Barton, have carried on the tradition of “prayer touring” with the Jinja Tour for our internship each summer in Uganda. We’d visit sites around the city of Jinja, Uganda and nearby villages, pray for people, hear new perspectives on and pray for the poor, people living on $2 a day, people in the marketplace, and the brothels.

This morning I walked with John Dickmann, friend and Garnett Church of Christ administrator, around the property of the church, praying for the sacred ground that this place has been for many years and many people. We walked by the bus barn where JOY buses were repaired and sent back out into the streets for years, strolled by the broken sign that needs repairs, and we prayed for the neighbors bordering this property.

For more on “Prayerwalking,” read Ted Haggard’s book, Taking it to the streets: Impacting Communities through prayerwalking. And if you know of other books on this or would like to share an experience you’ve had, please let me know.

By Greg Taylor Posted in General

One Grand Laceration

My brother, Dr. Toby, wrote in his blog about my son’s recent trip to the ER.

Toby is not your typical doctor. I wish we lived in the same town so he could be my doctor all the time (even so, we call him several times a year for advice). He still does house calls, charges much less than he could, is very accessible, listens a lot to patient history and doesn’t overly rely on tests without history-taking as some docs are wont to do.

Toby and his wife, Debbie, go into public high schools and do abstinence sex education programs, and they have been instrumental in supporting and directing efforts of a pregnancy clinic in their community. I’ll have more information about that clinic in another post, because they need donations to purchase updated equipment and staff the facility.

These are the types of programs I believe in, and when good Christian people stand against abortion, they should also stand for the missions of clinics like this, abstinence programs, and many other ways to prevent “unwanted” pregnancies.

Read Toby’s blog. It’s a good way to get into the mind and heart of a doctor who cares about the world around him, his community, the poor, ethical issues, better ways to serve patients, advice on health and life.

By Greg Taylor Posted in General

Walk the Line

I was deeply moved by Walk the Line. Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon deserve Oscars.

Walk the Line is not just a must see. It’s a must experience. The story, the wrap around, the music, acting were all beautiful, tragic, emotional, raucus, and powerful. I’m working right now with a reviewer on a piece for Wineskins.

Cash was an incredible redeemed person. And the film is one of the best redemption movies I’ve ever seen.

By Greg Taylor Posted in General

My name is Greg Taylor

childhood ambition . . . to win punt, pass, and kick and meet Roger Staubach
fondest memory . . . learning to garden, raise cattle, twiddle my thumbs on the back porch swing with my grandfather
soundtrack . . . Chocolat
retreat . . . family cocoon
wildest dream . . . to fly (flapping my arms like a bird)
proudest moment . . . becoming a father
biggest challenge . . . being a father
alarm clock . . . Jacob, 6 am
perfect day . . . snow day, fireplace, sled, snowman, hot cocoa and java
first job . . . mowing yards for dad
indulgence . . . egg nog and pecan pie
last purchase . . . iPod shuffle for my daughter (I want one, too)
favorite movie . . . Walk the Line
inspiration . . . teachers, like my wife
my life . . . is full of much joy
my card . . . (have you seen this ad campaign for AMEX in SI? Must have cost them millions)

By Greg Taylor Posted in General

Carolyn O. Allen memorial: Books for Missions

From my friend, Leonard Allen, who lost his mother.

Carolyn O. Allen passed away just before Thanksgiving in the home of her daughter near Portland, Oregon. She was a member of University Church of Christ from 1983 to 1997, and was a long-time volunteer at the Christian Service Center in Abilene. The funeral service will be in Sandy, Oregon on Friday, December 2.

Memorial gifts may be made to the “Books for Missions” fund at Abilene Christian University Press, 1648 Campus Court, Abilene, TX 79601.

Leonard Allen has established a fund from which to provide books for missionaries. Funds buy books that missionaries have requested, and Leafwood Publishers ships the books to those missionaries. Having been in that position of needing books while overseas and being far from them, I welcome this new service to missionaries.

By Greg Taylor Posted in General

AIDS Day, Advent, Africa

World AIDS Day, Advent, and Africa stir within me this morning as I read Luke’s account of Elizabeth and Zechariah and Mary waiting on babies, waiting on the Lord.

This week of Advent is about waiting. Like Paul, who knew nothing of childbirth yet was racked in pain until Christ was formed in disciples, we learn in this period to wait as if Christ is being formed in us. So Mary asked the question, “How can this be?” and Gabriel finished the conversation with, “the words of the Lord never fail.” If we wait and if we pray, Christ will not fail to form in us through the Holy Spirit and the Love of the Father who wants to be our God.

We had a great windstorm Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent, and the sky was full of dust and dark in the middle of the afternoon. So we lit several electric candles in the windows, but I could not put up the outside decorations, because they would have blown away in the 40 mph winds. Our decorations are puny compared to our neighbors anyway, but that’s beside the point. The point is, we’re waiting in darkness for the great light.

This darkness is never so apparent as in places where AIDS is killing a third of the population of many countries in Africa and affects every family without exception. My good friend, Grace N., a Christian church leader in Uganda, has lost two brothers this year. While in Uganda, we attended or were aware of funerals nearly every week of people who suffered and died with AIDS.

Wade Hodges, our preaching minister at Garnett, where I began working this summer, instructed us to ask the question this week, from Psalm 13, “How Long O Lord?”

How long will we wait for the world to be put right? How long will the war rage in Northern Uganda, where babies are born of raped teenaged girls? How long will we tolerate our government blocking legislation against torture?

And How long will the innocent suffer while the guilty go free? How long will worthy people who want to do your kingdom work, Father, lack resources while we the rich waste resources on ourselves and over the top pleasures? How long O Lord will AIDS kill the innocent babies, women who are infected by their cheating husbands? How long until we stop buying and start waiting and watching for your coming?

Today, as you look at the links I’ve provided, also read Luke 1, and wait for the Lord Christ to be formed in you.

By Greg Taylor Posted in General