Monday, June 30, 2008

Speaking of Thr3es

I know I'm posting early. Sorry if I'm stepping on someone else's toes. I'm simply hoping to continue the conversation that the handsome Ian Kilgour posted on "Faithful Global Citizenship" (June 27, 2008) - has the Church got something more to say than we demand the right to smack our kids?
I believe the church has thr3e more things we can say.
Firstly, we can speak of our common confession that Jesus is Lord, that Solo Cristo has the defining claim on our loyalty. We consent to "Solo Cristo"; not to Caesar, not to the Empire of Rome, and not to whatever form the Empire takes today. Secondly, we can speak of our common gatherings, deliberate faith-filled moments/places that somehow intentionally counter and contribute to the healing of divisions/frictions, something that Paul calls in a Letter to the Corinthians “the ministry of reconciliation”. And thirdly, we can speak of our "common purse", our common practices of generosity, hospitality and justice, the embracing of difference, the inclusion of historically excluded or marginalized peoples, a purposeful inclusion that Rob Bell calls “the practice of a new humanity”.

Historically, when the church has lived from within and spoken of these three things our faith has brought something of heaven to earth and has added/contributed to the dignity, freedom, and security of different peoples throughout history. Think of:
- William Wilberforce.
- Catherine and William Booth.
- W. T. Stead.
- Dorothy Day.
- Rosa Parks.
- Martin Luther King.
- Oscar Romero.
- Mother Theresa.
- Bishop Desmond Tutu.
- Bono.
- Viv Grigg.
- Shane Claiborne...

And thankfully, the list could go on and on, couldn’t it?

Sadly, at the same time, when the church has stayed silent and forgotten to speak of these thr3e things, when Christians have forgotten our common Lordship, when we’ve forgotten to effect deliberate gatherings, faith-filled and good moments/places where we intentionally counter and heal divisions, when we’ve forgotten to embrace difference and the making of inclusive spaces, we’ve left a legacy of incredible damage on earth, something of hell on earth, a legacy of immense harm to humanity.

Think of:
- the Slave Trade, initially some Christian circles defended the sale of human slaves.
- the Christian Crusades.
- the Inquisition.
- the Colonization of Distant (“Heathen”) Peoples and Foreign Places.
- the Holocaust of Nazism.
- the Apartheid of South Africa.
- the Genocide of Rwanda.
- the Manifest Destiny of the America and its meddling in the Middle East.
- the political alliance of some churches with Mugabe in Zimbabwe.
- the increasing impact of our ecological foot-print and over-consumption in the “Christianized” West...

And sadly this list could go on and on too, couldn’t it?

Eyes on this from Lee Camp:
“The Rwandan genocide highlights a recurrent failure of much historic Christianity. The proclamation of the ‘gospel’ has often failed to emphasize a fundamental teaching of Jesus, and indeed, of orthodox Christian doctrine: ‘Jesus is Lord’ is a radical claim, one that is ultimately rooted in questions of allegiance, of ultimate authority, of the ultimate norm and standard for human life. Instead, Christianity has often sought to ally itself comfortably with allegiance to other authorities, be they political, economic, cultural or ethnic. Could it be that ‘Jesus is Lord’ has become one of the most widespread Christian lies? Have Christians claimed the Lordship of Jesus, but systematically set aside the call to obedience to this Lord? At least in Rwanda, with ‘Christian Hutus’ slaughtering ‘Christian Tutsis’ (and vice versa), ‘Christian’ apparently served as a brand name - a ‘spirituality’, or a ‘religion’ - but not a commitment to a common Lord.”
(Lee C. Camp, 2003, Mere Discipleship: Radical Christianity in a Rebellious World)

I’m floored in front of this silent failure of our faith, you?

Today, if the church hopes to find our voice, if the Christian church hopes to add something of real value to the common good of our earth and not guiltily or sheepishly share in its common fate, then, with the everyday news of conflict, dehumanizing images of others, exclusion, fear, gross inequalities, injustices, hostility, nationalism, scarcity, suspicion, and terrorism, Christians everywhere have to now commit to a re-discovery of these thr3e historical expectations of our faith and let them re-determine/re-in-form/re-shape the feel/look/practice of our following of Jesus.

The commitment we have to make is simple, doable, (though the cost is high): we confess to a common Lord; we engage in creating common gatherings, deliberate moments/places that heal divisions/frictions within our glocal communities/neighborhoods, and when/where we can, we intentionally invest in practices/projects of generosity, hospitality and justice.

See the potential impact of this “common Christian voice” on issues of global development? Conflicts? Extreme poverty? Fair Trade? Gender Equality? Human Trafficking? Hunger? Environmental Sustainability? Terrorism? See some of the incredible costs involved (the comforts and excesses we esteem/prize might have to go)? See some of what it could mean to hang our own flesh on this Christian "voice"? See some of what is involved in "Faithful Global Citizenship"? See some of what is at stake - collectively, locally, internationally, personally?

Friday, June 27, 2008

'Faithful Global Citizenship' Day Seminar Sat.5 July

Has the church more to say to society than; “We demand the right to smack our kids?” How can the Christian community and the government work together to ensure better outcomes for: the environment, world peace, the poor, refugees, and international aid workers?
Surely Jesus is passionately interested in the plight of the poor, the refugee, the sweatshop worker and the planet. If you are interested in these things also and you can be in Auckland next Saturday July 5th then come and join the Forum of The Christian Left as we discuss Faithful Global Citizenship. Join with some of our MPs who are willing to engage with a progressive Christian voice.
Follow the links above or read on to find out more.
‘Faithful Global Citizenship’ - 3rd Annual Conference - 5th July 2008
Key Note Speaker: Dr Roland Boer of Monash University, argues that the religious left should ally with the secular left to reclaim the reformist and revolutionary potential of the Bible.
Workshops will include Immigration/asylum, Environment, International Aid, Fair trade vs. Free trade.
One week to go. If you live in or near Auckland is not too late but please we'd prefer you to register beforehand than just show up (although we won't turn you away) If you would email Amber with your intentions we'll make sure we have enough lunch for you. amber_ps@clear.net.nz

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Waiting and Watching

A Scripture, and then a hopeful and provocative insight from Walter Brueggmann today.
OK?
...

The Scripture:
“So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”
(Exodus 3.10, NIV)

And now the hopeful and provocative insight of Walter Brueggmann:
“It is of immense importance that the most difficult, most dangerous task in emancipation is not undertaken by YHWH as divine deliverance. Rather, emancipation is a human task to be undertaken amid the risky problematic of Pharaoh’s political reality.”
(Walter Brueggmann, 2006, The Word that Redescribes the World)

See the hope?

We can. The healing of our planet, or to copy Jesus, the Kingdom of God, is at hand, in our hands.

See the provocative thought?

God, like “History”, to steal a phrase from Bono, “is kneeling, watching and waiting for what we do.”

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

its simple but not easy


I was challenged by much that was shared at JustAction08 and not wanting it to be quickly forgotten I decided I would try and have a 'greener' start to my holiday. Instead of driving from Hamilton to Auckland to fly to the south island as planned, I thought I'd catch the bus meaning one less vehicle on the road and less petrol being consumed. An $11 one way fare on the bus to Manukau was making me feel very proud of myself (saving both the environment and my wallet). I even decided to catch the bus from my house into town to the bus depot. All was sorted, I was patting myself on the back for a job well done......


Until I discovered that the connecting bus in Auckland that I needed to get me from Manukau to the airport didnt run on Saturdays and the closest other bus would leave me with a 4km walk to the airport. Car transport was now required for this last leg (thanks Manukau Corps). So Saturday morning came and I waited patiently at the bus stop near my house. I waited, and waited and waited. For some reason the bus I had planned to get me to the bus station was not running and I was going to miss my bus to Auckland unless I could get a ride....so another car trip was now required (thanks Bec).


I felt slightly less proud of my efforts but still glad I gave it a go....until I tried to get home.

With a delayed flight in Christchurch I missed my connecting buses in Auckland and so a friend drove from Hamilton to pick me up as I had to get back that night. Now I was feeling annoyed at the whole process. I was trying to do something good and it ended up being worse than if I hadnt even tried.....


But, does that mean that we give up just because the first time doesnt go well? If that were true no one would ever seek to pursue living a just life and seeking to make change in the world. Pursuing these things will be costly, to our time, our energy and yes even our pockets....but its got to be worth the cost if change happens surely?


I was reminded yet again of the AA saying from the Big Book - IT'S SIMPLE, BUT NOT EASY.


If we are looking for this kind of change to happen easily, we will be quickly disappointed and walk away. But if we can understand the simplicity of change required and then work hard to see change take place....then everyone wins

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Rosemary McLeod: A dangerous drift away from reality

Rosemary McLeod's column today in the Sunday Star Times expresses her frustration and anger at where NZ is heading.

She has a go at a range of groups, including the churches, whilst also mourning the loss of the influence the church used to have on society.

Some salient quotes:
Three senseless killings in as many weeks is a lot for one Auckland community to bear, but it's a load we all carry. We may have no choice about that, but we do over the direction we take with it.

I blame: THE CHURCHES. Where is any confident outspoken leadership on right and wrong? Are they sidelined into fretting about gay marriage to the exclusion of matters that affect everyone, or quibbling over points of doctrine (virgin birth, resurrection) while society's glue comes unstuck? How is it that our most energetic church leaders of recent times have been the disgraced Graham Capill, and the alarming Brian Tamaki, with his legions of dark-suited clones? But if we (the middle class, who mock most things) mock Tamaki, what can we offer in his place? And if we never forgive the churches' sexual abuse scandals, do we hold out hope that what replaces them will prove to be any better?

I blame: THE MIDDLE CLASS. We pay most of the taxes and have benevolent ideas we're not prepared to pay for. We make sure we live in parts of town where bad things don't happen, and that our kids go to schools well away from the poor and other stigmatised minorities. Our heart goes out to such people in the novels we read, though. We don't go to church, and we don't know what to tell our kids about most things. Drugs? Surely not all that harmful. Sex? Well, don't underage kids have rights? Alcohol? We drink. Morality? Don't get caught, times 10 is probably our 10 Commandments.

I blame: WOMEN. Women have become the success story of the education system. So is the rise of a caste of female criminals as vicious as their male counterparts. Young women go out to get raucously drunk and get laid, as males traditionally did, and we have 18,000 abortions a year, although contraception is freely available. If we give up nurturing, who will take our place? If we don't act responsibly, looking after bodies and our own safety, who do we think will? And what is our role, actually?

I blame: MEN. Where are they? Fathers' rights campaigners are visible. Destiny Church men are visible. Much more visible are absconding fathers, and the male criminals who stuff our jails. Do the majority of men, fathers and husbands and workers, get any credit or respect in our society? What role do we think men should play in life, and how are we communicating that to our sons? Do we seriously wonder why they become confused, suicidal, or at the very least, irresponsible?
Cross-posted to my own blog. Gavin.

Friday, June 20, 2008

An encouraging story from Jim Wallis' (Sojourners) visit to 'Sing Sing'

I have often told the story of the first time I visited this unusual and inspiring program at Sing Sing. My book, The Soul of Politics, was being read by the students as part of their seminary curriculum, and I received a letter from the prison inmates themselves, inviting me to meet with them and discuss my book. It sounded interesting, so I wrote back to ask when they would like me to come. A young man wrote to me on behalf of his fellow Sing Sing students saying, "Well, we're free most nights!" He went on, "We're kind of a captive audience here!" The prison authorities were very accommodating and I got to spend several hours with about 70 guys in a crowded room deep in the bowels of the infamous penal institution.

The animated book conversation was one of the most stimulating and rigorous of any I've ever had. I vividly remember much of that discussion, and especially the riveting comment of one young man who said to me, "Jim, most of us at Sing Sing come from just about four or five neighborhoods in New York City. It's like a train. You get on the train in my neighborhood when you are nine or ten years old, and the train ends up here....at Sing Sing." But this young man had experienced a spiritual conversion inside of that prison, and was now enrolled in the New York Seminary program training pastors to work inside the prison system and to go back and work in those neighborhoods from which they had come. After the session that night, the young man came up to me to say goodbye, looked me in the eye, and said, "When I get out, I am going to go back and stop that train."

A few years later, I was in New York City to speak at a town meeting on poverty. Guess who was up front, helping to lead the meeting? I immediately recognized two of the young men I met that night at Sing Sing--Julio Medina and Darren Ferguson. Last week, Julio came back to the commencement at what NYTS calls their "North Campus," now as an illustrious alumnus who spends his days running a very successful drug rehabilitation program in NYC. Darren was being the newly installed pastor of a church in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Queens where some recent shootings had him out on the streets that night instead of at the Sing Sing commencement. ………..

It was a night of rich gratitude and profound hope. And while I have often been inspired by the faces of the young bright graduates facing me on brilliant spring days of school commencements, I have never felt more grateful and more hopeful than I did looking into the spiritually-chiseled faces of these redeemed graduates on a summer's night at Sing Sing prison. Thanks be to God.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Subscribe to Just Comment .org

I have added links at the top right so you can quickly subscribe to all Articles by RSS or Email.

You can also subscribe to Comments.

The site itself and the feeds are tracked by Google's Feedburner and Analytics services so we can understand our readership.

Enjoy, Gavin.

now at www.JustComment.org

Just Comment now sits at the more friendly www.justcomment.org domain.

If readers use the old address http://justcommentblog.blogspot.com it should auto-redirect to www.justcomment.org.

justcomment.org (no 'www') should also auto-redirect to www.justcomment.org

Enjoy, Gavin.

ps, I have put instructions for how I did this at my own blog

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Reach of Salvation

A bit of a long blog today. I’d like to sit in the seat of a Mad-Scientist (complete with a dimly lit and disheveled “laboratory”, chemicals frothing in test tubes, cold coffee, mice, messy grey hair, sleepless eyes, and white coat) and with your consent, I’d like to try a little thought experiment on you.

OK?

Jim Wallis of Sojourners fame claims that:

“Salvation must not be seen as merely an individual event, but rather as a world event in which the individual has a part.”
Jim Wallis, 1976, Agenda For Biblical People.
...

I’ve sat in front of this thinking for some time now and have been secretly trying to coin a catchy phrase or term that could capture and fuel the energies/hopes/imaginations of our generation, a phrase that could help our mates see where they can fit into this larger, global story of salvation.

I started with glocalism, a phrase that cleverly mixes the global + the local, and despite its promise - it enabled me to grapple with some of how salvation connects and intersects international issues with the communities we live in - I felt it missed some of how and where global matters have a personal stake in them. I felt it failed to pin point some of where “I’m” personally responsible.

I placed my thinking face on - the frown - thought some more, drank more cold coffee, paced the floor of my “laboratory”, engaged in conversation with some mates, explored some other thinkers like Brian McLaren, Walter Brueggemann, and Naomi Klein, experimented with and tried on some other phrases like “multi-polar cooperation”, a complex (and dare I say it, clumsy) phrase that comes from the economic genius of Jeffrey Sachs(1), a term that I hurriedly decided should probably return there too, and then, when I felt completely desperate, “stuck” in what is called a ”solution deadlock”(2), I got a glimpse of something extraordinary, something incredible, something that I honestly hadn’t factored into my thought experiment.

The Home League.

The only consistent experience I had of Home League died with my mother - a faithful member of a small group of mainly delicate, grey dames (some had the permed purple hair thing going), who loved to drink Earl Grey tea, collect fine china and tea spoons, knit, eat freshly cooked scones, exchange recipes, laugh, and sing traditional hymns at the Corps Centre, the local expression of The Salvation Army.

I couldn’t have been more mistaken.

I got literally hijacked by a hard-core Home League initiative - the Malawi Project, a Territorial Project of The Salvation Army that connected individual Home Leaguers and local groups of the Home League everywhere in Aotearoa New Zealand, Fiji, and Tonga to the international issue of Human Trafficking.

I couldn’t believe my eyes.

A global crisis of horrific proportions, a global demand that exploits and enslaves 27 million people on earth, one person every thirty seconds, five jumbo jets of people disappearing everyday, the fasting growing crime on our planet, a global crime that makes more profit every twelve months from the sale of people than Microsoft makes from its sales of Software(3), a global issue that fueled the creativity of dames and little purple-haired ladies in cities/towns/villages throughout the Pacific and ignited a flurry of baking, knitting, and doll-making, a flurry of fundraising with which these individual Home Leaguers and local Home Leagues partnered with the international efforts of The Salvation Army to stop the sale and trafficking of humans.

The Malawi Project fueled our imaginations too, and, within minutes, we started our own flurry of ideas, dreams, plans, prayers and schemes. We followed the Home League inside this incredibly grand narrative, inside a larger story than our own, a story that infused meaning and significance into how we were living everyday, a story that connected our little individual lives with the large global issue of human slavery, a story that handed our community a part to play in the salvation of our planet. The story of the Home League Project gifted our local community with something significant in that it helped it to think and act “beyond”, “further” and “wider” than itself, it inspired our community to “give a damn”, and for where we were at that meant sponsoring a non-stop run from Bluff to Dunedin, some 250 kms, to collaborate, we hoped, in the “bringing of freedom to the ends of the earth”, to help, we prayed, in stopping the global scourge of human trafficking.

A conversation started in our community that hasn’t stopped. The community delved into the global complexities and issues involved in human trafficking. We started to explore the cost, the feel, incidence, look and smell of the international sale and trade of humans. Some of our community grew concerned with how the move in our local/national laws to legalize prostitution could lead to a possible increase in demand and influx of trafficked persons into Aotearoa New Zealand. Some in our community started to explore the local gossip of foreign students at University mixing study with prostitution. Some drilled the global issue of human trafficking down into our everyday life and started to engage with it personally. We explored whether or not there is a connection between the global marketing and sale of humans and the sexual objectification of people in the many forms of media that we expose ourselves to. We looked at the connection that there is between our private flirtations with cyber-porn and the shameful sexual trafficking of people. We discussed the link that exists between how we define and depreciate sex and how we see and treat others. These conversations leave you considering how you could personally stop the demand and supply of the global trade of humans.

See what happened? See the three different places our salvation touched? See its incredible reach? See the seamlessness of our salvation story?

I now knew what I had been chasing. I now had something definite to hang my thinking onto. I could see that the mothers, sisters, and purple-haired grandmothers of Home League had latched onto a practice of salvation that held the potential to make a significant difference on our planet. And, less importantly, though hopefully packed with some of the same punch, and some of the same reach of these faithful Home Leaguers, the experience left me with a newer phrase that I hope can capture the energies/ imaginations of the next generation.

GLOPALISM. There it is.

GLOPALISM. The global, local, and personal face of our salvation story. The global, local, and personal reach of salvation.

GLOPALISM. The phrase that I think could help our mates see where they can fit into this expansive, international story of salvation.

It could look like this (and this is not a definitive formula/listing of practice; this is simply how we’ve evidenced GLOPALISM help our community contribute to a larger, global story of salvation):

Globally: Adopt a major issue facing the future of our earth (extreme poverty, hunger, conflict, terrorism, child mortality, financial instability, maternal health, AIDS/HIV, climate change, population/migration, sanitation, fair trade, environmental sustainability, gender equality, human trafficking), a global issue that energizes you or simply ticks you off. Make a commitment to get inside the issue, to connect with, learn from and pray with others interested in the issue, and, if/when you can, make a commitment to fundraise for and invest financially in a N.G.O. that is engaging with or supportive of the same issue (Doctors Without Borders, Partners in Health, The Micah Challenge, Make Poverty History, The One Campaign, Buy Nothing Day, Stop the Traffic, Fair Trade, Amnesty International, Oxfam, Tear Fund, World Vision, or The Salvation Army). Stick with this issue for at least 12 months.

Locally: Start a small group of like-minded people who can help you track the global issue of your interest into your local neighborhood. If its climate change, what is happening with the environment in your hood? If its human trafficking, who gains from the objectification of people locally? who is exploited and hurt? If its conflict, how is difference treated in your community? how is exclusion practiced? who is on the fringe and marginalized in the hood? where is there domestic violence? where is there the embrace of difference? who is making “peaceful” spaces for others and practicing hospitality? If its extreme poverty, what is the name of poverty on your street? Learn the names of neighbours who’re struggling financially. Engage with this from Shane Claiborne: “...It is a beautiful thing when folks in poverty are no longer just a missions project but become genuine friends and family with whom we laugh, cry, dream, and struggle... that’s when things get messy. When people begin moving beyond charity and toward justice and solidarity with the poor and oppressed, like Jesus did, they get in trouble. Once we are actually friends with folks in the struggle, we start to ask why people are poor, which is never as popular as giving charity.”(4) Make a covenant with your small group to meet intentionally to creatively "plot goodness"(5), to scheme how to engage with where your adopted global issue is entrenched locally and where national policies/politics fuel the issue in your neighborhood.

Personally: Drill the global issue down even closer to home and explore it on a personal level: how is your own flirtation with cyber-porn fueling the global trade and trafficking of humans? how is the mileage you’re clocking-up, your own over-consumption and wastage contributing to climate change? how is the chocolate you enjoy, the latte you slowly sip at the local cafe, the clothes you dress in, the shoes on your feet, or the sports equipment you play with connect you personally to issues of fair trade?

Try to personally:
- engage with the Scriptures to fuel your imagination with stories of faith, hospitality and justice.
- experiment with a “buy nothing day”, a day on which you challenge yourself, family and mates to flick off the tele and give going to the shops a miss.(6)
- drive less, catch the bus, bike, or walk.
- form habits of extravagant generosity.
- gift some of your time to simply helping a neighbor, a local organization like the Community Patrol, the Family Store of The Salvation Army, the SPCA, a local school, a Home for the Elderly, the local mosque, or join/start a Neighborhood Support Group in your street.
- grow a garden.
- op shop.
- engage with a good book on global issues and social justice. Take a long look at Ronald J. Snider, 1997, “Rich Christians in An Age of Hunger”; Campbell Roberts and Danielle Strickland, 2008, Just Imagine; John Yoder, 1972, The Politics of Jesus; Brian McLaren, 2008, Everything Must Change; Jim Wallis, 2008, Seven Ways to Change The World; or Jeffrey Sachs, 2008, Common Wealth - Economics for a Crowded Planet.
- sponsor a child through The Salvation Army, Tear Fund, or World Vision.
- practice a Sabbath, a time and space to simply slow down and reflect on what God is saying.
- write to your local MP on issues of social justice.
...

Do you see how GLOPALISM links global issues with local communities and personal decision-making? Do you see how this makes our planet more smaller, more connected, more touchable?
Do you think this GLOPALISM could catch on? Do you think it would fly? Do you think it is something that could help you and your mates see where you fit into the salvation story? Do you think it makes the salvation of our planet doable, tangible, touchable?

The cynics and mockers scoff - “its too little, too late”.
Seriously?
...

I leave you with these final thoughts (and if you still can’t see the possibility of GLOPALISM, then may I humbly suggest a night at Home League):

“Multiply all these kinds of daily personal decisions by the increasing numbers of people, people like you and me, for whom they make sense, and you begin to see the power of personal action inspired by a new kind of faith.”(7)
...

“It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man (or woman or child) stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he/she sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy... those ripples... build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”(8)
...

1. Jeffrey Sachs, 2008, Common Wealth - Economics for a Crowded Planet.
2. Brian McLaren, 2008, Everything Must Change.
3. Human Trafficking Facts from Steve Chalder, 2008, Podcast, Mars Hill Bible Church.
4. Shane Claiborne, 2006, The Irresistible Revolution. Interestingly enough, "The Big Give", the latest feel-good reality tv game show from Oprah (screening Wednesdays, TV3) is simply that - charity and not justice. I didn't see anyone last night stopping to explore the harder "why" questions of the lives they were trying to help.
5. Brian McLaren, 2006, The Secret Message of Jesus.
6. www.buynothingday.co.uk
7. Brian McLaren, 2007, Everything Must Change.
8. Robert Kennedy, cited in Jeffrey Sachs, 2008, Common Wealth - Economics for a Crowded Planet.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The world as God's body!

I have been reading Sallie McFague’s book ‘Models of God’ and was impressed with her notion of ‘The world as God’s body’.

Part of her argument is that the traditional understanding of the resurrection and ascension it that God who went to so much trouble to become incarnate has been removed to another world by human religious constructs. The empty tomb narratives along with the bodily resurrection of Jesus to ascended glory has placed him in another world where hopefully one day we’ll meet him in some ‘other worldly’ life. In the meantime his presence is only experienced in the Sacrament, Word and a few sacred places meaning that most places are empty God!

Sallie McFague postulates the idea that the resurrection and ascension was into the world, not from it. The world becoming the ‘body of God’ in the same way that the Church became the ‘body of Christ’ post the resurrection.

If this is a valid interpretation then how we treat the earth is how we treat the body of God. A sobering thought.

“God is profoundly, palpably, personally involved in suffering, in suffering caused by evil. The evil occurs in and to God’s body….All pain to all creatures is felt immediately and bodily by God. ….In this sense, God’s suffering on the cross was not for a mere few hours, as in the old mythology, but is present and permanent. As the body of the world, God is forever ‘nailed to the cross,’ for as the body suffers, so God suffers.”
-

St Paul has similar thinking in relation to the church being the ‘body of Christ’ and bearing the His in its body as it serves and suffers in the cause of the Gospel. However it’s one thing to bare such wounds but quite another to wound the body of God because of our thoughtless and reckless exploitation of natural resources.

The Power of One + One?

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

video

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

Monday, June 9, 2008

Agriculture Forecasts

With food and oil prices climbing, we are all watching with interest.... here is a OECD report of forcasts till 2017 Click here for report

I have a suspicion that- this is simply proof that our economic system a bit off the mark. Now im no economist as most of you know- but im going to make a few comments and pose a big question:

Food and oil prices are rising (stating the obvious)... because of several reasons a) to curb climate change by turning wheat fields for eating into wheat fields for bio fuel b) that as economies in the developing world are growing - particually big contries like india- and now instead of serving the developed world, they are now serving themselves and their ppeople due to a rise in wealth in the middle classes (which most would agree is a good thing)...

can anyone add anymore they have learnt or know of?

Point a) is jsut plain dopey on behalf of contries such as america etc... esp if the govt is subsidising farmers etc... easily solved.... stop and find a better alternitive wehre we can have biofuel and food to eat.. OR policy here is created by the wealthy to benefit the wealthy needs to be put under the microscope and challenged big time

Point b) is the worrying one... if the out come of our economy means that as soon as those who couldnt survive before -eat, ahve secure accomodation, education, build a livlihood, now can-ANd the effect is this (the blanced has tipped the other way and /or everyone suffers from high prices inculding those in developing nations).

This is a whacked system.... it is a system that breeds inequality- survives /thrives on inequality... this is not a system that our world needs.... How do we ensure a fair deal for everyone ( without calling me soem political label... like communist ... which i dont think that any political label would suffice what im asking for here...)

A subject i know not much on, but something grates me about whats happening...

Thoughts?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

World Environment Day: The ReCycling of Stinky-thinking?

There is this great comment in Campbell Roberts and Danielle Strickland (2008), Just Imagine that captures some of what fuels my imagination and some of what causes my own sense of dis-ease on World Environment Day. Look at this:

"To fathom the magnitude of what Wilberforce did we have to see that the 'disease' he vanquished forever was actually neither the slave trade nor slavery. Slavery still exists around the world today, in such measure as we can hardly fathom. What Wilberforce vanquished was something even worse than slavery, something that was much more fundamental and can hardly be seen from where we stand today; he vanquished the very mind-set that made slavery acceptable and allowed it to survive and thrive for millennia. He destroyed an entire way of seeing the world, one that held sway from the beginning of history, and he replaced it with another way of seeing the world. Included in the old way of seeing things was the evil idea that the evil of slavery was good. Wilberforce murdered that old way of seeing things, and so the idea that slavery was good died along with it... the idea that slavery is inextricably intertwined with human civilization, and part of the way things are supposed to be, and economically necessary and morally defensible, is gone."
Campbell Roberts and Danielle Strickland, (2008) Just Imagine.

Deep, eh - this is what it got me thinking.
Even though it is good that there is a growing glocal commitment to the down-sizing of our carbon-footprint, a growing concern to keep planet earth "clean and green", and a growing investment in fair trade (even McDonalds, the historical Arch enemy, excuse the pun, of environmental ethics and equity in employment, has now launched a coffee at its McCafes that is somehow more fairer for the growers and somehow more gentler on the planet; good gosh, there is even now a carbon-neutral magazine called "Good" (click on http://good.net.nz/) that is cram-packed with good information to help you "make wise choices for yourself, your family and our planet", and is literally stuffed with eco-friendlier or "greener" products to stockpile and fill your home with - its all good stuff, or if you're like me cynical and crusty, its simply more stuff!), there is in my limited frame of sight no honest public challenge or countering of the paradigm of seeing nor of the pollutant-stinky-thinking that has fueled the glocal crisis of over-consumption we’re now facing. Today, if you listen carefully, the loudest commotion you catch in the media is the noise of the newer eco-friendlier sales-pitches and the spin of smart and savvy corporations that are trying to cash in on “green”. Its now "hip", "cool", "in", "sexy" to be "green" (go Kermy the Frog, sorry, a childhood flashback there) and, like the former manipulations of sex in commercials, the label "green" is now what sells. I find that sad and a little troubling. The desire to consume, the greed, the discovery and investment of our identify in and through the purchase of objects, the objectification of life, the pursuit of “more”, the misplaced “theo-capitalism” (Tom Beaudoin) - the faith/trust we place in the market to deliver what God gifts - is simply “greened”, re-packaged, and re-sold to you, only this time in and through the pursuit of the fastest, coolest, latest, and sexiest “environmentally-friendly-thing”. We’re still flirting with over-consumption. The earth is still one giant shopping mall (though, to be fair, in some larger chains the energy-conscious management have dimmed the lights to try and limit the ecological footprint of the stores). The planet is still for sale. We’ve simply gift-wrapped the product in shades of green. We've simply shifted our hard-earned cash sideways. Is that enough? There has to be some critical discernment and open dialogue. Think of the enormous commitments, the massive monetary and scientific investments we're making in agrifuels, a commitment which is in part grounded in our desire to keep our planet "green" and in part in our desire to keep the car-driven-commuter-centric shape of our economies the same, it is a commitment and a desire that is having a dangerous impact on the production and supply of food to hungrier nations. Our neighbours. Some commentators now openly talk of "food wars". Isn't there something seriously faulty in this thinking?

I hear echoes of Albert Einstein who claimed: “Any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction... We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Similarly, Naomi Klein in No Logo (2000) insists that today the healing of our planet depends on the decolonization of our imaginations, on somehow freeing and re-claiming our private head-space, on somehow freeing and re-claiming our public spaces from the logic, mindsets, and spin of over-consumption. I’m not mocking the “green movement”, the eating of fair trade chocolate (I still can’t stop at one piece though, can you?), or the donning of organically grown and ethically sown cotton t-shirts (click on http://www.micahclothing.co.nz) and I’m certainly not knocking the hugging of trees. The Creation is simply good and deserves our genuine repentance. The only thing I’m trying to say is this: why can’t we slow down and take a longer harder look? why not chase the tougher questions? what is the logic, the spin, the stinky-thinking, the system that is driving a lot of our dis-ease? where is the “Lordship of Christ” in this? why should we let the market piggyback on and re-sell to you and me our honest need of repentance? why should we let this critical glocal issue simply get the same lame treatment of other passing fads? why not on World Environment Day make a covenant with God and with others to imitate something of Wilberforce and try to create a public conversation, a dialogue that helps people find and live from within a truly counter-cultural paradigm of seeing and thinking? Surely that would lead to something more sustainable.

Monday, June 2, 2008

JUSTICE AND MERCY NOT CHARITY

This quote from Jim Read, senior policy analyst for the Army's International Social Justice Commision was recently brought to my attention

...what I understood of the Army's social ministries. People had all sorts of needs. We should care. The law of love demands it and the overflow of God's grace to us makes it possible. The thought that the person on the receiving end had a right to what was given wouldn't have occurred to me.
I saw the Army's social work as charity, not as an obligatory response to a legitimate claim. Poverty was awful, dehumanising. That, I knew. But that the poor had been wronged, that poverty was a consequence or manifestation of oppression? I don't think I possessed that paradigm.
Yet, it is precisely these terms - rights, oppression, being wronged, entitlement - that are key to understanding 'justice'.

There are still people, like Jim says he once was, who think that the call of the Army is to charity rather than to mercy and justice?