Sheep without a Shepherd

It's a David and Goliath story- peaceful monks vs armed and violent soldiers. It tugs at our heart and mind- it is the old appeal of the weak standing up to the strong and we want desperately for the weak to win. The courage of the protesters is astounding, doing the very thing that had 3000 people massacred not so long ago. Their bravery is magnetic, this week whenever I have walked past a newspaper stand I have found it impossible not to pause and scan the photos and the headlines.

But the protests should compel us for reasons deeper than this. What the protesters are asking for is profoundly right. What the protesters want is what Jesus wants. "How can you say this?!" some of you more conservative types might cry, "Hath the Lord speaketh in your ear?!" (Okay I know fundamentalists don't speak in King James language but it suited the moment)

Well, Jesus might as well have as it is written right there in the Bible- in both words and actions we can see that Jesus stands strongly for the ideals of equality, democracy and social justice and strongly opposed to political, emotional and religious oppression.

In Karl Barth's fantastic sermon on Jesus and and the social justice movement, where he basically states that Jesus and social democracy have the same purpose, he says "In answer to the question "Which commandment is first of them all?" Jesus named two "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart" and "you shall love your neighbour as your self". From this awareness of the collective, solidary, communal, social God the rule of coresponding action follows of itself" "Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them".

If I was a peaceful protester in Burma I would hope that people all around the world would stand in solidarity with me and that people, organisations who stand in Christs name would speak out against my oppressors.

The Salvation Army have been working in Burma for a while, with a lot of impact. This blog post (from the School of Prophets Blogand seems kind of prophetic seeing as it was written at the very beginning of these protests!) describes the hard and 'gutsy' work of the SA there. My old Boss Campbell Roberts does a talk based on Micah, that being a christian is a triangle of mercy, justice and personal spirituality, each being as criticial as the other. He argues that the Army is all about mercy and personal spirituality at a cost of social justice. In Burma for sure we are doing two of these things, but does the events of this week highlight the missing third?

If the International Salvation Army spoke out in support of the protesters would it be sacrificing this amazing mercy work going on? If it is supposed that that would happen are we then forsaking social justice for mercy? They are hard questions, but I beleive that even mercy can only happen to a certain extent within a socially just framework and soon, if we fail to support the cries of the people, that even the Armys acts of mercy will be made redundant.

What are your thoughts?
PS to sign the petition heading for the UN this week click here.

If any of you are wanting to join a protest there are a couple here: (Taken from the Stand with Burmese Protester Facebook group- Come and joing if you are a FBer!)
Londoners: Protest every day from 12-1 outside the Burmese Embassy. Joing a big march from Trafalger Square this Sunday from 11:30.

Kiwis: Protest at Aotea Square this Saturday: http://unityaotearoa.blogspot.com/2007/09/democracy-for-burma-now.html for more information



I spent yesterday celebrating with food and fun, my quarter of a century burpday. I recieved some awesome pressies- Tim got all of his gifts from the 2nd hand shop (he knows me well that one) and Jo and Steve got me a.... Greenhouse. I was so stoked all day that I didn't open eyes to the world around me, so read only this morning, would you beleive, that Anita Roddick has passed away.
I was rather shocked and a fair bit sad. Although the recent sell out to Loreal threatens to cast a shadow on her green and fair pioneering life, it musn't. This Guardian article talks about us all, to some extent, being "Roddick-ised", meaning, we have become more ethical consumers due to her efforts. Its a big call but I can't agree more. When The Body Shop was founded the term Fair Trade didn't even exist, let alone micro-enterprise, yet both were central philosophies of the endeavour. The Body Shop were the ones who first made me aware of animal cruelty and the environmental damage of plastic bags (a decade and a half before it dawned on Anya Hindmarch.)
So, here's to a life lived out of love for others, an adventure carved out of a dream for a sustainable and beautiful earth, a trail blazed in hope of a fairer and more peaceful world.


Kelly Slater isn't God of the waves

Todays Guardian has a rad story on the UK Christian Surfers- yep, kiwis there is swell here...
Christian Surfer in NZ is a massive movement and it is cool to see that it does awesome stuff here too- and getting coverage in the national paper. I like this bit- "Surfers tend to be a group who don't necessarily connect with a dusty old building like a church. But God is not about a building. He is about a community."


A beacon of hope

We went and saw the new Nelson Mandela statue in Parliament Square last week, which the man himself came to unveil. The bronze sculpture is full of passion- in contrast to most of the others around the square with their elegant stature. It was really moving standing in front of the imploring figure, arms open, face appealing and knowing what Mandela has acheived. At the unveling he said "Though this statue is of one man, it should in actual fact symbolise all of those who have resisted oppression, especially in my country." Good old Gordon Brown finished up the ceremony with some truth when he said “This statue is a beacon of hope. It sends around the world the most powerful of messages: that no injustice can last for ever, that suffering in the cause of freedom will never be in vain.”