Global Lens Reflections on life, the universe, and everything

War
Nevertheless, she persisted
Nevertheless, she persisted

When Elizabeth Warren insisted on reading a old letter from Coretta Scott King on the floor of the U.S. Senate on February 7, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell ordered her to shut up. In a classic example of mansplaining, McConnell commented on her silencing by saying, “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” It instantly […]

2016 – A year in photos
2016 - A year in photos

There’s a military phrase that, despite my aversion to military terms, works well for photography. Some places I visit are clearly “target-rich environments,” in that it’s hard not to capture compelling images because the people and their surroundings are so beautiful. I’m not referring to some misplaced sense of the exotic. People aren’t interesting just […]

#TeamRefugees
#TeamRefugees

At the 2016 Olympics in Rio, a unique team of ten refugees participated for the first time in international competition. Their participation clearly showed that bravery knows no borders. To honor their participation and the struggle of refugees and displaced people around the world to survive and prosper, every day during the Olympics I posted an […]

2015 – A year in photos
2015 - A year in photos

When Arthur “Weegee” Fellig, a New York City street photographer in the 1930s and 1940s, was asked what the secret was to his images, he responded, “f8 and be there.” In other words, you gotta show up. During this past year, that’s what I tried to do. From the streets of Pasco, Washington, to the […]

Pilgrimage to Hiroshima & Nagasaki
Pilgrimage to Hiroshima & Nagasaki

It’s safe behind the camera. There’s enough stuff to think about–aperture, shutter speed, framing–that I can usually stay somewhat detached from the emotion in front of the lens, be it grief or anger or levity. But what usually occurs at a professional distance has a bad habit of sneaking up on me later. So it […]

South Sudan – Is there hope?
South Sudan - Is there hope?

Cecil the Lion is dead. In an act that has been rightly criticized all over the world, a Minnesota dentist traveled to Zimbabwe and paid a lot of money to wound the iconic lion and then chase him for two days before finally killing the animal and skinning him to take home a “trophy” to […]

2014 – A year in photos
2014 - A year in photos

In these waning minutes of 2014, I want to offer my thanks to those people around the world who let me share in their lives for a few moments or a few days this year. Because they were willing to tell me their stories, or let me into their homes and neighborhoods to document their […]

South Sudan: New nation, old problems
South Sudan: New nation, old problems

When fighting broke out in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, in December, Asanta Jantana quickly gathered her seven children and fled for another part of the country where she hoped she could find peace. They hitched a ride on a truck for a day, then walked the last 12 miles to her brother’s house in the […]

Advent images
Advent images

Advent is a time of waiting–for the incarnation, for justice, for peace. Over the centuries the church has developed a series of measures to help us develop the practice of waiting, everything from different liturgical colors to candles and wreathes to calendars with little doors to special music (though it’s an unfair fight: for every […]

Abyei: On the border of two Sudans
Abyei: On the border of two Sudans

When violence breaks out between two different groups in Africa, it’s common for western media reports to characterize what happened as “tribal violence” or “ethnic conflict.” Such nomenclature is mandatory for writing about Africa, wrote Binyavanga Wainaina in his landmark 2005 essay How to Write about Africa. Such reductionism makes complicated scenarios easier to digest […]

Timbuktu trouble
Timbuktu trouble

Timbuktu sounds dramatically different these days than it did a year ago, when religious extremists exercised terror, beating women and girls who ventured out of the house without completely covering themselves, chastising men who wore their pants too long, smashing any machine that made music, burning books of science and faith that dated back centuries […]

Syrian refugees
Syrian refugees

People have continuously lived in the Old City of Aleppo, Syria, for more than 5,000 years. In 2003 I went there to research a story about efforts to preserve the twisting labyrinth of narrow stone-paved streets. I intentionally got lost, and spent delightful hours just wandering, repeatedly trekking into dead-end alleys and having to retrace […]

Guatemala genocide trial
Guatemala genocide trial

Manuela Toj knelt in the mud at the bottom of the pit, the three skeletons before her covered with flower petals and burning candles. I knelt beside her, along with several of her neighbors, all of us gathered around the newly revealed skeletons. A Mayan priest intoned prayers for the dead while a young woman […]

War Shadows
War Shadows

Sometimes the best images aren’t where you thought you’d find them. In 2002, just after Jonas Savimbi was killed, I went to Angola to cover the end of that country’s bloody civil war. Savimbi was one of Ronald Reagan’s favorite “freedom fighters,” and US funding and encouragement, including from private terrorist groups like the Heritage […]

Egypt: Advent in Tahrir Square
Egypt: Advent in Tahrir Square

It is Advent in Tahrir Square, where people are waiting. They’re not sure for what, but such is the nature of Advent, to wait for freedom and deliverance amid uncertainty. The people gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square are both afraid and hopeful at the same time. That’s Advent in a land where Arab Spring has […]

Advent waiting
Advent waiting

Advent is a time when Christians practice the discipline of waiting. For many people in the world, however, waiting is more ordinary, the stuff of every day and not just special days. Waiting shapes who they are and how they see the world. For many who wait, impatience simply isn’t an option, perhaps because it’s […]

Libya: Urbicide in Misrata
Libya: Urbicide in Misrata

Fred Pavey has a rubber chicken. His wife gave it to him. Fred is a British explosive ordnance disposal technician, and when he gets to a place where he has to deal with landmines or bombs or other things that are just lying around waiting to go bang, he inflates the chicken and leaves its […]

Southern Sudan: Before it’s a CNN moment
Southern Sudan: Before it's a CNN moment

In Sudanese villages along the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, there are homegrown militias that use rather primitive technology–bows and arrows and spears–to fight off attacks from the Lord’s Resistance Army. Yet at the same time, the Arrow Boys take full advantage of modern electronic technology to pass on critical information. Mobile […]

Southern Sudan: Advent waiting
Southern Sudan: Advent waiting

It’s the first Sunday of Advent, and I’m somewhere over the west coast of Africa, sitting in a cramped economy class seat on a 17-hour flight from Johannesburg to Washington. I’m trying to get into the zen of waiting, if for no other reason than I have no choice but to just sit here. And […]

Southern Sudan: voting excitement
Southern Sudan: voting excitement

I’m in Southern Sudan for a couple of weeks, writing about the work of the church in the lead up to January’s referendum on independence. These are heady times in some ways, as people long oppressed by the government in the north feel their way toward nationhood. There’s a rocky road on the other side […]

The Congo’s Dirty Secret
The Congo's Dirty Secret

When President Obama signed the financial reform bill on July 21, the United States took a significant step towards ending violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the most violent war of recent decades continues to rage. It’s a conflict is fueled by a variety of factors, including endemic corruption and the proliferation […]

Sudan: New genocide charges
Sudan: New genocide charges

Judges at the International Criminal Court in The Hague today issued a second arrest warrant against Sudan’s Preident Omar Al Bashir, charging him with three counts of genocide against the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups in Darfur. The three specific charges are genocide by killing, genocide by causing serious bodily or mental harm, and […]