Archbishop Desmond Tutu
A must read article by Geoff Ryan about the Salvation Army as a prophetic movement, and just read another by Dion Oxford called Redemptive Theology of Salvation. Which is also along the lines of my last couple of blogs I guess. Here is a poem I pinched from that very same bloke and that very same article, to enticeth you:
A man once said that the man who lives in hope
A girl once told me she’s so alone
She sells her body to feel loved
I wonder what could have gone so wrong
to be so wrong
Someone on Yonge Street begs for money
to buy crack
He says that when people give him money
They put another nail in his coffin but he doesn’t want to die
and I wonder what could have gone so wrong
to be so wrong
The world spins away towards yesterday
and we keep on worshipping money and sacrificing the weak
to appease our god
And only complain when the price of gas goes up or when our stocks go down
and I wonder what could have gone so wrong
to be so wrong
People/organisations/churches are divided into faith or action catagories ay... forsaking personal spiriuality for responsible deeds or vice versa. (Well, I know I do that, for sure). Even though, it is as clear as the day that they are intimately tied.
It's not reassuring, either, that James was addressing this tension 2000 years ago, argh. I feel as though Dietrich Bonheoffer is an example of holding the right tension... but am yet to really find out how he did this in other than ethereal terms....
check Jo's comments on the last post.
Wowzas. I have taken on Ethics by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (executed for being on an assasinate-Hitler committee). Intensity of intensity! Its not bedtime reading: it makes my brain ache… but there are a lot of gems in there, shivers…. It is all put in a profound and unique light when you consider that he is writing in the context of of the Nazi regime and the Christian community’s complacency about it.
In his chapter “Ethics as formation” he discusses the 6 orientations that guide behaviour: Reason, ethical fanaticism, conscience, duty, free responsibility and private virtue and how these all fail to impact our world/society/reality.
I was struck by Ethical Fanaticism - those motivated by strong principles of justice and truth but get caught up in insignificant battles rather than seeing the whole picture. That is me. I fumed my way through our visiting preachers talk this morning because of a few unthinking remarks he made. Blinded by my principles.
Bonheoffer describes the orientation that can impact reality:
“the one who keeps in sight the single truth of God… not fettered by principles…this single minded person does not also cast glances at the world while standing next to God, and therefore is able, free and unconstrained to see the reality of the world. … so they know that reality can be helped neither by the purest principles or the best will but only by the living God”
Last night I read the bit about shooting your superwhatever- this idea that we are all plagued by expectations of what it means to be the superpastor/ superyouthworker/ superChristian/superwhatever and its got to go.
It reminded me of a bit in Ragamuffin Gospel which utterly beset me.
The kingdom belongs to people who aren’t trying to look good or impress anybody, even themselves. They are not plotting how they can call attention to themselves, worrying about how their actions will be interpreted or wondering if they will get gold stars for their behaviour. Twenty centuries later Jesus speaks pointedly to the preening ascetic trapped in the fatal narcism of spiritual perfectionism to those of us caught up in boasting about our victories in the vineyard, to those of us fretting and flapping about our human weaknesses and character defects. The child doesn’t have to struggle to get himself in a good position for having a relationship with God; he doesn’t have to craft ingenious ways of explaining his position to Jesus he doesn’t have to create a pretty face for himself; he doesn’t have to achieve any state of spiritual feeling or intellectual understanding. All he has to do is happily accept the cookies: the gift of the kingdom.
Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning, pg 53
There is, sitting at parliament, a Members Bill that seeks to reduce criminal responsibility from age 14 to 12. Yes, 12. It also wants to widen the scope for more young offenders to go to prison and make punishment harsher etc. You can read it here.
Christians, awake! This is a hideous Bill, which has already gone through to select committee- National, First and Labour are supporting it.
“Never in any part of the Bible are prisons part of Gods way. Always they are used to oppress. Always they are an affront to the divine. There are no good prisons. None” (Olson, God who dared)
Kiwi’s, make a submission- guidelines on how to do that are here. For inspiration, read the Social Policy Units Prison Report, Beyond the Holding Tank. Or have a look at my initial thoughts below. Sorry to pop such a big fat post up, but it may be helpful to a few.
“While men go to prison in and out, in and out, I’ll fight” (Booth)
Jesus lovers in NZ :I urge you to consider writing a submission.
- Youth crime is portrayed as increasingly prevalent and acute. The public is terrorised by headlines of young violent law-breakers despite 2005 assertions by NZ police that most youth offences are not serious, and very few become persistent and serious offenders (http://www.police.govt.nz/resources/2005/youth-policing-plan/youth-policing-plan.html.) There is an obvious lack of communication of this information to the public. A Bill with such dramatic implications needs to be based on relevant and accurate statistics, not distorted media reports and irrational public fear.
- This Bill will result in more young people being imprisoned which exacerbates rather then deals with the underlying causes of offending. The young people this bill impacts- the persistent or serious offenders- are the ones who are in greatest need of holistic help. Last year NZ police recognised that the majority of persistent youth offenders come from backgrounds of disadvantage and have been victims of abuse and unstable family environment. Giving harsher punishment rather than dealing with the root issues such as abuse, family stability, truancy and deprivation will result in a high probability of recidivism.
- Increased imprisonment of young people needs to be avoided as it takes away hope for their future. Research has shown that those who have been imprisoned face poor living conditions and less access to health care, education, employment, housing and social connectedness than the general population (Beyond the Holding Tank, p47). Young people should not have to face such great barriers to reintegration into society at such an age for an offence committed whilst they were still a child.
- Increased imprisonment of young people is ineffective. Harsher punishment has been found to be the least effective way to change a person’s behaviour by over 23,000 studies (Beyond the Holding Tank, p50). If a reduction in crime is the aim alternative methods other than imprisonment need to be found for all lawbreakers. Yet this is an increased need for young people who are still developing behaviourally and socially.
- The need for alternative methods of justice for young people in order to deal with these root issues and prevent further offending has been recognised by the labour government in its development of a long term strategy put in motion with the Children, Young Persons and their Families Act 1989. Family group conferences, Youth Offending Teams and a variety of other creative initiatives form an integral part of a great investment by the Labour government to tackle youth crime.
- These alternative methods of the youth justice system have been perceived as a soft response, which is perhaps why this Members Bill has been proposed. This is despite the success of Family Group Conferences. Research shows that young people do not find Family Group conferences an easy option, and that overall FGCs hold young people accountable for their offending and prevent re-offending. (Beyond the Holding Tank, p64)
- The restorative methods of the Youth Justice System have not had opportunity to take full effect due to a lack of resources and insufficient time. The full impact of alternative justice is yet to show on youth crime rates, but most project it will be positive (NZ Police). More resources should be invested into the alternative methods of the current youth justice system so that FGC’s can be undertaken more efficiently and young offenders can receive greater assistance to prevent re-offending.
- The government should persist in its restorative approach for young offenders and not relinquish the significant investment already made. This Members Bill wholly contradicts the principles and methods behind the progressive moves undertaken to curb youth offending. To implement this legislation would be a step backward that will result in more damaged lives; for the young offenders and their victims.
Please get in touch 4 more info/links etc.
People dug it! Talking to us about it and cheering, I think there was a general consensus that indeed brains should be used to make a difference in this corrupt world, thanks. At the end of the parade we amassed in the square and for a speech by the deputy mayor who said “I see a sign out there that says Use your brain for change (it was about 2 metres in front of his face) and its so true, we must take it into the organisations and institutions and bring about positive change”: he loved it.
While he was speaking Tim was up behind the band and academics waving his huge banner, it was awesome. I was totally proud.
I left my hat in the car so I was the only one with a bare head in the parade. But I think my banner compensated for it.
The rest of our 3 day excursion in Wellington was spent drinking delicious coffee in Cafes and reading (Tim: Da Vinci Code, Lucy: Reader in Social Christianity and Dicken's The Curiosity Shop). Oh, what a beauty. That is my dream activity. I have the most amazing friends down there, hanging with them was sooo wicked.
Here are some pics of the parade:
None of us could figure out what was with the bag pipes.
Then I did a speech.(Just kidding)
Tim and I went to our first Tikanga/Te reo Maori class last night- Maori language and culture. It was wicked ay, such a wide variety of people- all ages, all ethnicities, all motivations. Heaps of people just saw it as important to know, appreciate and understand the indigenous culture. Kia Ora and Amen to that.
Stayed up late making my sign for the graduation march (see post below somewhere) it says “The worlds three richest people control more wealth than the 600 million poorest” and on the other side “USE YOUR BRAIN FOR CHANGE” (haha when I first typed that it said “use your Brian for change”- but what if I don’t know a Brian!)
It is on wall paper with felt tip pens, and I am gonna put it on 2 big bamboo sticks. I think it’s a bit lame but Tim says its pretty. I hope it doesn’t rain because it will drip on my head and I will have a rainbow face. I am not convinved about mooning at the graduation ceremony, and Tim is not convinced about blowing a hooter and letting down a banner, so we are stil working on another awareness creating stunt.
The NZ 2006 Budget comes out tomo… we might do another protest at parliament about the lack of foreign aid and reflection on NZ poor (which will be missing, guaranteed). So off to Wellington for a few days tonight: Haere Ra, kia kaha and keep it radical, cuzzys.
25/11/06 SORRY I AM JUST GOING TO MUTILATE THIS POST BY ADDING PICS FOR illumiate!
I am reading Gods Politic's by Jim Wallis at the moment. It is a flipping great book., not just for Americans or people into politics at all. But anyway, he discusses Matt 25, with a brilliant story about his pal Mary Glover, who he used to run the food line/soup kitchen with. Before opening the food line each lunchtime she would pray “Lord we know you’ll be coming through this line, so lord, help us to treat you well”.
Someone wrote a song about Mary Glover:
“I’m a coal black Jesus with a hole in his shoes,
On a D.C street with no more to lose,
Get into line and there you’ll stand
And sing “Sweet Mother Mary, put some food in my hand”
I guess its what NZ Poet, J.K Baxter was getting at too with his Maori Jesus.
What’s Jesus getting at with this story…. Is it about judgement? Or is it illustrating right priorities here on earth? Or both? Or is it about knowing God i.e- our knowing God leads to right action toward the least of these? (As a friend put it on Saturday night) Or Jesus’ location?
Lucy, Linda from Oxfam, Mr G from Sri Lanka Tea Plantation, D.C Ross Gower Did a message about trade justice/global poverty at church yesterday (Amos 8)... it was fascinating speaking there, ay. Like, people discussed these facts at their tables:
1. International trade is worth $10 million a minute.
2. But poor countries only account for 0.4 per cent of this trade. Since 1980 their share has halved.
3. Rigged trade rules cost the developing world $700 billion a year, according to the UN.
4. Income per person in the poorest countries in Africa has fallen by a quarter in the last 20 years.
5. The three richest people in the world control more wealth than all 600 million people living in the world's poorest countries.
6. Nearly half the world's population (2.8 billion people) live on less than US$2 per day.
7. The prices of many poor countries' key exports are at a 150-year low.
8. The world's 50 poorest countries have less than three per cent of the vote at the International Monetary Fund, an institution whose financial decisions spell life and death for ordinary people around the globe. Just one country – the US – has sole veto power.
9. At one full meeting of the World Trade Organisation (an international group who settle on global trade rules) the EU had 500 negotiators. Haiti had none.10. After one round of trade negotiations, rich countries calculated that they would be $141.8 billion better off, while Africa would lose $2.6 billion.
And people were saying things like "Yes, back in my village in East Africa we really felt the brunt of plummeting prices etc" because it is such a multiethinicity place. Surreal.
Tim claimed this morning that I take advantage of him because I try to have conversations with him in his sleep. Last night he was like “The periods nearly over” I said “huh, Tim?” and he said “school” and I said “Ohh, school, yes?” and then he must have realised he was sleep talking because he tried to style it out and turn it into a normal conversation… but I wasn’t fooled. Tim is at his most profound in slumber: at 4am he had this dream about us sailing to South America with no one else in the world but, alas, we kept falling out into the ocean of global calamity and injustice- for, of course, without God as navigator all efforts on this behemothic sea are futile. Amen.
AHA! It was decided. I could parade with meaning and appeal to my fellow student's conscience…
I am going to carry a big sign that says "Rigged Trade rules cost developing countires 1.3 billion everyday: Use your brain for change". Some friends are coming along to walk along side carrying other stats about injustice/NZ's poor effort in Aid money... and inspirational messages... hehe. Kind of as more of a reminder/encouragement then a protest- because I know some of them will have, through uni, been challenged to make a difference in this world but may be forgetting as the job offers rush in (or not)…
So if anyone is in Wellington next week and would like to join our “reminder”, do let me know. Also… Tim and I have been thinking about some awareness raising stunt for the ceremony… he suggested doing a Patch Adams (as I collect my thing on the stage mooning the crowd with “Brains 4 change” on my butt.) Bit rude. Any (slightly more appropriate) suggestions?
Thi is a bit from Mr G's bio:
"The plantation workers were given slave type of living conditions, confined to less 100 square feet of living area in which they were cramped and struggled to make a daily living with out the basic facilities. From my school days I have seen the plight of this ill treated people and made it my aim to help them rise from their suffering ridden environment.
We have tried and achieved to at least to extend our dream of elevating dignity, freedom, equal status, Education ,Health and better living standards with all the basic facilities.
A run down tea factory and estate at Idulgashinna has been today transformed into showcase tea producing tea factory where the pioneer organic tea is being produced and exported to all over the world. With all international standards certificates being achieved this factory has become the benchmark for the Sri Lankan tea plantation sector. The employees of this plantation and factory who are from the community are given every opportunity to earn a higher wage and thereby given economic and social upliftment."
Tim and I were shocked by a simple truth in our bible study on Saturday:
"Jesus asks us to be in the world but not of the world" and prays this will be a reality (Jn 17:14-19)
"In the world" We are to be close to people, involved in their struggles. Close to them so there is no unnecessary communication gaps between Christians and non-Christians. This will involve being where they are. Today, this meas their workplaces, their social clubs, sports teams, pubs, streets. Where ever the people are.
but "Not of the world" While being in the world and involved in it, our identity is sourced from the ethos of Christ. Christ practiced a radical set of values that included simplicity, community, shargin and liberating involvement. A value system "not of the world" which can be built into our lifestyle.
But do we sometimes get it back to front?
"Of the world" Following its values, letting it be the source of our dreams and visions for the future. No different in our foundations from the secular world.
"Not in the world" Living our day to day lives away from others. Involved in our own church programmes, creating our own church culture."
From Living Simply by Murray Sheard (availible from Tearfund)
This is a wee excerpt-
Rachel McGuire, writing from Colgate Rochester, writes about the Social Gospel that
"the social gospel is the gospel. It was the answer to the oppression of the Roman Empire in Jesus' and Paul's time…It was the driving force behind the ending of slavery and mission of the black church as a…social…institution. It was the powerful force underneath 20th century movements to become free of political and racial oppression, particularly the Civil Rights movement. And it is the only way out of the global oppression…and unprecedented economic imperialism (…mass human suffering and environmental destruction) being wrought by the United States today."
Us Salvationists have forsaken the path of simplicity we started on.... we have succumbed to accumalation and materialism with the best of them. I was flicking through candidates forms yesterday (application for full time work in the Salvation Army) and came across the contract at the back, number four is something like "I understand the army will not pay me a salary. They will try to give me an allowance but I wont expect it, and understand it is not a reward or payment for my work" I was like WHAT! People actually sign that?! You wouldnt guess it! I have sat in financial boards and heard people say "Oh they have been working so hard the last few years, lets give them that house with extra bedrooms and a big laundry"...
Not only does this kind of extravagant mindset add to the growing gap of rich and poor, put a barrier between us and those we are meant to reach -the most deprived- but it is also a total danger to our whole mission:
George Scott Railton
"I intend carefully to instruct my children that if at any time they see The Salvation
Army a wealthy, respectable concern, the majority of whose "soldiers" simply go
where they please to attend its' "ministrations," leaving the godless undisturbed to perish; and if they see another set of people, however they may be clothed or despised, who really give up all to go for the lost, then they must not for a moment hesitate to leave the concern their poor old dad helped to make, and go out amongst those who most faithfully carry out what the founder of the Army laid down in his writings and acts. May God preserve them from such a day by keeping the Army free from the love of money and ease."
George rather terrifyingly hit the nail on the head with that one didn't he.