Thursday, November 27, 2008

Proximity is where its at!

I attended the Red Letter Voices Conference at which Justine Duckworth of the Wellington Urban Vision spoke about ‘Justice making in a global world’.
One of his points was that ‘proximity’ is everything.

He challenged us by asking what we’d do if a malnourished child was literally dying in the midst of the Conference. Without doubt we’d suspend proceedings and give urgent attention to the little one’s needs. Yet we can eat our meal in the comfort of a lounge chair watching TV and witnessing a mother holding her dying child for want of food, water and medical help, and do nothing.

Justine observed that the more successful we became in Christian ministry the more removed we become from the poor and the opportunity to be directly involved.

Proximity, or location, location, location is where its at. The willingness to be engaged and involved leads to costly action which was his second point and which is where Christ was in his relationship to the people, with the people and for the people. Appropriately we commence the celebration of his advent. Thankfully he has come to be with us where we are.

A new kind of politics 2

The conversation continues. There is a simple little formula that is informing the newer face of politiks. It looks like this:

… for the people to with the people to of the people… (Leonard Boff)

What could this little formula mean for how you and I engage with others? What could this little formula mean for how we imagine and practice our faith? What could this little formula mean for how we re-imagine The Salvation Army?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A new kind of politics

A comment from the in-favour Barack Obama to start our conversation:
"... what's troubling is the gap between the magnitude of our challenges and the smallness of our politics -the ease with which we are distracted by the petty and trivial, our chronic avoidance of tough decisions, our seeming inability to build a working consensus to tackle any big problem."

Barack Obama, 2006, The Audacity of Hope.

The craziest of things. I'm engaging with this text of Barack Obama while I'm sitting in the coolest of flats in Soho, London, with the coolest of people, exploring without fear or hestitation, what the face/feel of politics could be like today. I honestly dig where the conversation is going. I like the commitment, the energy, and the passion that there is to be authentic, caring, ethical, embracing of "otherness". I like the seemingly inexhaustible creativity for finding alternatives, a creativity that is countering the gridlocks of stuck imaginations. I like the faithfulness that there is to the excluded, the little people, the forgotten and marginalised who deserve a more expansive politics. I like the largeness of the history that there is to learn from (and what history there is in London - Karl Marx, Mahatma Gandi, Isaac Newton, Jimmi Hendrix, Catherine and William Booth, Samuel Johnson, Christabel Pankhurst, Shakespeare, Florence Nightinggale, William Wilberforce, William Pitt, Charles Dicken, George Orwell, JFK, Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, Banksy, and Brian Haw). And lastly, I like the sense of deep "place", the sense of "turangawaewae" that these conversations have gifted me.
I've gotta tell you. I have this feeling that something new is emerging and this something is big enough to find a consensus from within our differences, this something is big enough to tackle the problems we've inherited (and continue to make). You feeling it?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Biculturalism – what exactly is it?

It is referred to in our government policy, discussed in employment interviews and it even gets the odd mention in some of our social conversations but what does this thing called BICULTURALISM really require of us?

For many, just hearing the word ‘biculturalism’ triggers feelings of INADEQUACY and GUILT. It seems to be SOMETHING we feel we should be doing SOMETHING about but at the same time, WHAT exactly should we be doing?

For others… YAWN! Have we not talked about this issue enough already? WE KNOW that many Maori do not do well in this society, WE KNOW of the unfairness and the injustice in times past but surely it is time to move on… isn’t it? The question is - how do we move forward in a way that is best for both Maori and non-Maori?

Biculturalism is viewed by many as an attempt to ‘respond effectively to the different needs of two cultures’. The Treaty of Waitangi contains the same intentions – EQUAL OUTCOMES in this partnership of two cultures!

Sometimes I look at my two boys – created so differently, both so very valuable, both sharing the same space in our home. It’s taken me some time to realise this but a ‘one size fits all’ approach simply does not work for them and it definitely does not produce EQUAL OUTCOMES.

Do I continue with an approach that works for one child but not the OTHER and expect that the OTHER should just adapt?

Do I just allow a lowering of expectations for the OTHER, settling for the view that it is just the way it is?

No way! I love them BOTH and want to see BOTH of them fruitful and living life to the fullest! The only way forward is to KNOW them BOTH, to have a good relationship with them, to see what works for them. As a very practical example, one needs space and time to chill after school but the other likes my attention and wants to ‘download’ his day - so that is what they get as one way to ‘respond EFFECTIVELY to the different needs of the two [BOYS]’

Considering this then, what can we do in our workplace, our church, our neighbourhood, perhaps even in our own family that allows us to get to know the OTHER, better than we do right now? In which situation do they work/develop/contribute best and what can we do to accommodate and encourage that? How do we love our neighbours (indeed our treaty partners) as ourselves? Perhaps if we begin to take action from this position, we may be able to remove the seemingly unattainable notion of BICULTURALISM from our list of ‘Things I would like to do’ and make it part of the way we live our lives?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

also for alternative christmas ideas and insipiration

Friday, November 14, 2008

An 'Affirmation' for urban living (Dorothy McRae McMahon)

We believe in God whose creativity
is not defeated by concrete or traffic,
but shines forth in the centre of our life.

We believe in Jesus Christ
Who lived as friend and saviour
to the people of the city,
who ate and laughed,
wept and celebrated
with ordinary people like us.

We believe in the Holy Spirit
who dances in the city
as truth and moments of love
who goes between us
with threads of community
and never leaves us without hope.

And we believe in the Church
which is real when it stands open
to the life of the city and bears witness
to the love and justice of God. Amen

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

the hope implicit in the election of Barack Obama

the hope implicit in the election of Barack Obama

source unknown (received by email)

Cross-posted from

Friday, November 7, 2008

“This is not change but the opportunity to make it”, says Obama

In a deeply moving speech following his being declared the president-elect, Barack Obama said that his victory at the polls "is not the change, but the opportunity to make that change."
"This is our moment. This is our time", he declared, "to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth - that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, We Can."

Obama appealed to the traditional character of the founding fathers, to American values and to ordinary people to work together for a better country and world.
Here is a message of hope for New Zealanders as we go to the polls to elect a new Government. We have often lauded ourselves with being a ‘can do’ people using the proverbial ‘number 8 wire’. We at such a time should reflect on our founding values, the Treaty of Waitangi and what we as a proud people can do for our nation and the world. Yes, We Can!

The Spirit of God is evident in the great moments and movements of history such as we’ve witnessed in the coming to power of Barak Obama, a culmination of the long journey to justice for the black people of the USA. Likewise in the great historic moments and justice movements in New Zealand such as The Treaty of Waitangi and the Hikoi of Hope to name but two.

We celebrate a God who acts in history and who is present today to bring about the needed change and hope. Together with the guidance and aid of God’s Spirit we can say, ‘Yes, We Can’.
The well known verse from St Paul, “behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2Corinthians 6:2), calls us to work towards God’s kingdom and Will, here on earth as it is in heaven. Our national elections will not be the change but is our opportunity to make change here and now!

Nelson Mandela Speaks

Text of a message from Nelson Mandela to President elect Obama

We join people in your country and around the world in congratulating you on becoming the President-elect of the United States. Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place. We note and applaud your commitment to supporting the cause of peace and security around the world. We trust that you will also make it the mission of your presidency to combat the scourge of poverty and disease everywhere. We wish you strength and fortitude in the challenging days and years that lie ahead. We are sure you will ultimately achieve your dream, making the United States of America a full partner in a community of nations committed to peace and prosperity for all.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


What a great moment for the world. Today we all have a sense of hope and expectation about what might happen now in America under President Obama. The President's speech was inspirational and dignified and called people to work for others not for themselves

Viven Hutchinson organiser of the Social Entreprenneurs wrote today

"The next President of the United States is going to have a lot on his plate with not only two wars and an economic catastrophe to immediately deal with ... and there's also the longer-term issues of climate change and building a new energy infrastructure.

It has been heartening during his campaign to hear Obama speak of the necessity of fostering social innovation and social entrepreneurship as he faces these difficult challenges ahead.

It is interesting to re-read what Obama had to say about this in July:
" We need to invest in ideas that can help us meet our common challenges, because more often than not, the next great social innovation won't be generated by the government.
" The non-profit sector employs 1 in 12 Americans and 115 nonprofits are launched every day. Yet while the federal government invests $7 billion in research and development for the private sector, there is no similar effort to support non-profit innovation. Meanwhile, there are ideas across America - in our inner cities and small towns; from college graduates, to seniors
getting ready to retire - that could benefit millions of Americans if they're given the chance to grow.
" As President, I will launch a new Social Investment Fund Network. It's time to get the grass roots, the foundations, the faith-based organizations, the private sector and the government at the table so that we can learn from our own success stories. We'll invest in ideas that work; leverage private sector dollars to encourage innovation; and expand successful programs to
scale. And just as we support small businesses, I'll start a new Social Entrepreneur Agency to make sure that small non-profits have strong support from Washington... "

- Barack Obama "Call To Service" speech in Colorado Springs, Colorado 2 July

Decision 08 - Do's and Don'ts

Do vote this Saturday and exercise your democratic right to elect the candidate/political party that you think is closest to enabling a “common good”, a “good future” that everyone can contribute to and share in.

Don’t vote thinking that this Saturday is where we abdicate our collective/personal responsibilities to the policies/programmes of a (potentially newer version of the same) “nanny state”. Its not.

“The distinctly kingdom question is not about how we should vote but about how we should live. The decision we make in each... election is no more important than how we vote everyday. We vote everyday for companies, for people, and we put money towards “campaigns.” We need to think of the faces behind the scenes. Who are the masters and Caesars that we pledge allegiance to by the way we live and through the things we put our trust in? We vote everyday with our feet, our hands, our lips, and our wallets. We are to vote for the poor. We are to vote for the peacemakers. We are to vote for the marginalized, the oppressed, the most vulnerable of our society. These are the ones Jesus voted for, those whom every empire had left behind, those whom no millionaire politician will represent.”
(Shane Claiborne, Chris Haw, 2008, Jesus For President)