Sunday, April 27, 2008

On thinking about goats!

The supply of over 100 sponsored goats for Zimbabwe as a result of auctioning a prototype Just Action Conference Badge got me thinking about goats.

The parable Jesus quoted from Egyptian antiquity and recorded in Matthew 25.31 divides people and nations between being sheep and goats. The simple criteria was whether compassionate and practical response had been shown to the stranger in need.

Who can say that we have always fed the hungry person, clothed the naked person, or visited the person in prison. No, we are all goats some of the time. In like manner using the imagery from another parable we all have wheat as well as tares (weeds) in us.

Unfortunately all too often I must confess to being a silly goat so I think Jesus was not so much telling this parable to illustrate what will happen at some future judgment but about the contradictions that exist in human attitudes and behaviour.

I believe Jesus was trying to underline the importance of the Christian life lived out in practice. Heaven and hell in this context are symbols of our inner realities and states of being, not physical places of reward and punishment. Judgment is what we do to ourselves by the choices we make.

I believe there is hope for this old goat yet provided I exercise my choice to follow in the way of Jesus with compassionate and generous response to those in need.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Power of One + One

A little something different today. I dare you to try and make sense of this clip from Radiohead:

Deep, eh. The countering power of One + One is immense. Don't give up.

Values: Part II

A little something to keep the conversation of Campbell Roberts alive (posted April 2o, 2008). Some more values with which we might re-imagine and renew the neighbourhoods we share:

... without the erasing of differences
equity... the flattening and redistribution of power
community development... in and through interdependence
embrace... without the fear of excluding evil or indifference to injustice
generosity... and not scarcity
hospitality... intentionally making room for others in what we call our 'own' - our seeing and in our spaces
freedom... without slipping into hyper individualism
fair and transparent trading
fun... simply and madly celebrating everything that is good
consumerism... without excess
faith/hopefulness... without devaluing the creation or elevating a fatalistic escape to heaven
sustainability... without the moralizing, please.

Doable? Touchable? What do you think?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Something a little cheeky (excuse the pun):

The claims of evolution, progress, male-chauvinism, war, and over-consumption in one single line.... enough there to start a good conversation, eh?
The counsel of Albert Einstein is critical to how we engage with issues of injustice and justice. He contended:

“None of our problems can be solved with the same level of consciousness or thinking that created them.”

I believe we have to cease trying to extend the Kingdom of God by conforming to and merely parroting the culturally-favored thinking of:
redemptive violence

Imagine the difference if we started to experiment with and immerse ourselves in the more creative and counter-cultural thinking of:
community development
holistic faith
new creationism

See the shift? See the thinking that is truer to the story of The Salvation Army? See some of the thinking that could truly heal the world?


Beyond our buying habits -to action

“We need to start by remembering that we are not just consumers: we are also citizens of countries and of the world.”

B Jeffcott

Moving from 'what can i buy that is better for the planet and its people' to fighting the root of the cause of the issue is a beautiful shift in mind set!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A brillant idea came to fruition this weekend with Prime Minister Rudd convening a national summit of the country's leading thinkers to propose a vision for the future direction of Australia.

Articulating the vision and values of a country is vital if social justice is to be achieved

Achieving biblical/social justice is the aim of The Salvation Army in New Zealand. Expressed in the mission to reform society and the goal to eradicate poverty. The question is what values does New Zealand have when it is reformed and has eradicated poverty. What are we working to reform New Zealand to? What are the values of the New Zealand we are trying to bring about.

In broad terms of course we desire a country that loves God, where people love and respect each other, a country where social justice exists in its borders and is worked for globally. But do we know specifically what actual values must be developed and encouraged if New Zealand is to be this sort of country.

I think the evidence is clear that work is needed if we as Salvationists are to have clarity on the vision and values we want New Zealand and New Zealanders to possess and treasure.
So this blog is a call to make a start. Lets debate together the essential vision and values we desire for New Zealand.

I invite you comment and contribution on what this vision and the supporting values should be.

For starters can I suggest two values
1.Ensuring that each person is given the respect and human dignity that comes from God
It would mean among other things that every person has access to food, shelter, healthcare and education in sufficient measure to maintain their life and dignity. Also it means the protection of the human dignity and life given each human person by God must be the prime driver of any social, political or economic system. "Yet you have made human beings a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honour" Psalm 8:5
2. Every person must live in a relationship of interdependence with others.
A sense of community must be greater than our individual rights. Close loving relationships to others is a requirement. Systems of business, politics, economics and other systems must create community not detract from it or destroy it. "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" John 13:35

Let the debate begin. What are the values essential for a socially just New Zealand?
respect that every person .

Saturday, April 19, 2008

A colossus of social justice

A service to celebrate the life of a colossus of social justice in The Salvation Army in New Zealand was held in Christchurch today. Someone said to me at the service Bob was the Edmund Hillary of The Salvation Army in New Zealand.

Bob lived incarnationally, in Bob you experienced Christ without a word being spoken. There were wonderful tributes today from Evelyn (Bobs wife), Grant (Bobs son) Daryl (Bobs son in law), Muriel (Bobs sister in law, fellow salvationists, politicians, the Crusaders coach, (soon to be the Wallabies coach Bob had prayed a prayer of forgiveness over him) people of the street, policeman, business leaders, fellow chaplains, police, fellow street workers and military personnel. Each person capturing snippets of this powerful man of God and his impact on their lives as daily and in every circumstances he lived out those three great Biblical themes of faith, mercy and justice.

But the most powerful tribute for me was the street people who joined Bob's family in the front row of the congregation (sometimes there was not quite room in the row for Evelyn). They were deeply grieving because they have lost a great friend who loved them and always gave them dignity. A person who was always there when they needed him and invited them home to share Christmas Day with Evelyn and himself.

Recently at Justaction Danielle Strickland talked of the neccesity for principle and practice in social justice. In Bob Millar those two aspects of social justice were beautifully combined. He spoke of the need for justice but he also lived it everyday. Those of us who had the priviledge of being in the shadows of this man of God saw someone in whom Christ dwelt deeply and our lives are different because of the experience.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


The people of Zimbabwe and the surrounding states need our prayer and thought. Life is already very difficult and the events of the last few weeks will only make it worse.
Pray also for wisdom in this situation from other African and world leaders.

The courage and joy of African people impacted me as I recently had the opportunity to lead a social justice session at The Salvation Army International College for Officers. Its captured in the attached video clip

Fair Trade Fortnight

Fair trade fortnight is coming very soon.... infact 3-18 May is it!

Whats it all about? ITs about celebrating an alternative trade system that places some the power back in the hands of the producers. It aims to bring about more profit for growers, build sustainable livlihood for them, their families and their communities. This fortnight is also about awareness of how trade affects the world- for good and for bad. We can ask questions like: waht is my role in all of this? and then what is our role (for waht ever community your involved with ) in this?

For more info go to the Fair Trade Fortnight website

You can get involved, Here are some ideas:

  • You can hold a Fair trade morning tea in you workplace or home or church

  • You can stick up posters and info alerting people to the issue (see website)

  • Go to an event in your area (see website)

Keep up the good fight! Choose today, Choose fair trade!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Just Comment is here

This blog will be up and running soon, we are excited to be able te discuss issues of justice, so please join us in engaging and changing the world!