What is Do Good Better?

Paul Farmer said, “All the great religious traditions of the world say, “love thy neighbor as thyself.” My answer is, “I’m sorry, I can’t, but I’m gonna keep on trying.”

Annalena Tonelli said, during the war in Somalia, “A new day dawns, God is not yet tired of man.”

We are people who want to keep on trying to love our neighbor as ourselves. We want to find hope with each new sunrise.

We want to help without hurting. We’ve heard the concepts but are vague on the action steps.

We want to do good better. We are people of faith and doubt, both at the same time. We are hopeful and cynical. We ask a lot of questions.

We are not afraid of hard conversations. We do not shy away from topics that terrify us. We are willing to set down our precious, our sacred cows, and be changed.

We believe in transformation. We believe in restoration. We believe beauty, goodness, creativity, and hope exist and insist on existing everywhere and we insist on calling them out. We dare to hope we could be participants in this wild goodness.

We want to cross boundaries: religious, cultural, racial, economic, so many boundaries, because we believe that diversity and other world views push conversation and character growth forward. We believe this must be done with humility and a sense of humor.

Do Good Better is a place for interesting, challenging, sometimes controversial, and always conversation-starting topics about international issues, faith and mission, humanitarian work, and expatriate life.

The links, books, podcasts, and more I share here are not necessarily things I agree with or support. Rather, they raise important issues I believe are worth grappling with.

Join the Conversation

Every week a newsletter of carefully curated content will land in your inbox.

Topics will range from short term summer mission trips to the white savior complex, training and acculturation, to funding and foundations, to work in volatile regions and long-term effectiveness, and so much more.

The articles in the newsletter will stir up conversation and debate, allowing readers to challenge their thinking and add hoopla to their real life conversations. Readers will also be able to leave comments and respond to one another here at Substack.

As a white, Christian, middle-class, college-educated Minnesotan American woman living in the Horn of Africa, I straddle so many worlds.

You do, too. You might have found this newsletter because you work internationally and feel conflicted about ideals, practices in the field, and how to help without hurting. Maybe you have encountered Christians abroad who make you angry. Or you might be a Christian working cross-culturally and are plagued by doubt and confusion and can’t find a safe space to wrestle.

My hope is to create safe space where people can bring their whole selves, no matter their personal religion or professional background, and ask hard questions about how we can do good better.

This might get messy and that’s okay. All are welcome, cruelty or trolling won’t be tolerated.

I am tired of hot takes and stones thrown across boundary lines. I want to dig deep and wrestle. I can’t wrestle alone, that would be weird.

Join me.

Subscribe to this newsletter here.

You can follow me on InstagramTwitterFacebook, and Linked In. Find my personal website and other writing and podcasting work here.

But really, seriously, subscribe. I need your wisdom and input, too.

Why subscribe?

The early editions of Do Good Better will be free but soon, the bulk of the editions will be moved behind a paywall. At that point, free subscribers will still receive one email a month but won’t be able to leave comments or engage with other readers.

Paid subscribers will receive

  • One email a week of curated content (articles, podcasts, books, images, etc)

  • Will be able to leave comments and engage with other readers

  • Monthly Q/A (question and answer), or maybe Q/IDKBLTIO (question and I don’t know but let’s talk it out)

  • Quarterly book club (book club will start in July, 2020)

  • Bonus essays by guest writers

  • Exclusive interviews

  • The satisfaction of supporting my work

If you absolutely cannot afford to subscribe but believe you have a good reason you should be offered a scholarship, contact me.

If you would like to provide a scholarship for readers who can’t afford it, contact me.

Stay up-to-date

You won’t have to worry about missing anything. Every new edition of the newsletter goes directly to your inbox.

If you don’t see a Thank You after you subscribe, make sure to check your spam or junk folder.

Join a crew of people dreaming of how to Do Good Better

Share Do Good Better, by Rachel Pieh Jones

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Do Good Better offers curated content: interesting, challenging, sometimes controversial, and always conversation-starting topics. Let's explore the messy middle of cross-cultural life, faith + mission + international development.


Complicated conversations about cross-cultural life