india trip

Not that I always maintain regular posting, but I’ll not (probably?) be posting for a couple weeks, as I leave Sunday night (or Monday morning, actually) for Kolkata, India with a group from my church.  We are helping Freeset refurbish their new building to expand their business.  Freeset make fair-trade, organic, eco-friendly and pretty stinkin’ classy jute bags; and they are expanding to making t-shirts with the new building.  Their reason for existence is to provide alternative employment for Indian women who want out of the sex trade – a form of human trafficking.

Team 1 (3 people) is already over there now; our team (Team 2 – 11 people) goes this weekend; and Team 3  (4 people) go later in February.  We’ve got a great range of people going over, from tradesmen to those just willing to pitch in wherever needed.

stinking stimulus

Anyone who has a knee jerk (i.e. less than critical) reaction to political events in general and the recent U.S. stimulus package in particular, should shut up and think before ranting.

That said, I just don’t like the thought (much less the passing) of the new stimulus package (and I’m not at all anti-Obama – to be crystal clear).  $US838 BILLION – on what I can’t help but see as a kind of massively over-sized whallop to a horse that is eventually going to die.  Yes, I’m aware of the complexity to all this, and No, I don’t think there are any quick fixes.  But I still cannot understand or begin to support spending nearly a trillion dollars on trying to preserve the “American Way of Life” ™.

What kind of precedent are we setting for future generations?  What are we saying to the rest of the world – much of which is living in some mild or severe form of poverty; a different kind of poverty indeed to the ‘poverty’ some are facing in ‘developed’ nations around the world.

Some may think, “Oh, but financial prosperity for the ‘rich west’ will enable them to be generous to the ‘poor rest’…”  That kind of capitalistic mentality (a.k.a. ‘the rising tide will lift many small boats’) is utter Bull.  Greed does not engender generosity.

Instead of our bank account levels needing to go ‘up’, we need our standard of living to go ‘down’ to a realistic and sustainable place.  And as long as ‘going out and spending money to stimulate the economy’ is part of doing your ‘patriotic duty’, then I think I want to be unpatriotic.

buying rubbish

It’s ‘inorganic rubbish collection’ time in Northcote, Auckland, New Zealand.

Northcote street-sides are loaded down with previously-wanted, cheaply-made, briefly-enjoyed and hastily-discarded stuff.

Interestingly, a rather large percentage of the items you’ll see piled outside homes in the area can be seen in pre-broken, pre-rusted or pre-outdated condition in store advertising fliers like the “Outdoor Living ’08” catalogue from the Warehouse (the near-exact New Zealand equivalent of ‘Wal-Mart’ – that corporation-of-all-corporations emanating from the U.S.).

Yes, the American disease of paying far-too-little for far-too-much is migrating shopping mall by shopping mall to New Zealand. Continue reading “buying rubbish”

anthropocentric ethics

Anthropocentric Ethics – In Ancient & Modern Perspective

The author/composer/poet/community which produced the text we know of as Genesis 1 observed many things. Just one of these is the uniqueness of humans in relation to our environment.

Day and night, earth and sky, sea and land, vegetation, and fruits, creatures great and tiny, both in the sea and on land…

And then behold – human beings. These humans are at the pinnacle of creation and are invested with the task and responsibility of governing the entire earth. Continue reading “anthropocentric ethics”

why the “economic stimulus” is a load of bull…

The US of A just spent $168 billion…

(or 152, depending on sources)

Might wanna read that again…

What did they spend it on?

Shopping… that’s right, shopping…

This makes me want to release a torrent of various expletives…

Each tax-paying American recently received hundreds of dollars to –yes– go shopping. The ridiculous rhetoric used for this was that of (as seen in the picture) ‘boosting our economy’. Why are they all smiling? Because you can rest assured, they all got rewarded (i.e. paid-off) wonderfully well by the various corporations that no doubt pushed this one through. Continue reading “why the “economic stimulus” is a load of bull…”

brian walsh: targum of Romans 1:1-17

Read Romans 1:1-17 (in a good, easy to read translation like NIV or CEV), and then check out Brian J. Walsh’s ‘targum’ (an interpretive ‘modernisation’ of a given passage) of it… (Copied from here)

I just love this stuff…
Continue reading “brian walsh: targum of Romans 1:1-17”

poor christianity

“And when James, Cephas (Peter), and John… perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of the fellowship, that we should go to the (uncircumcised) Gentiles and they to the circumcised (Jews). They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do.”
– Paul in Galatians 2:9-10 NKJV
Wow. Welcoming those filthy, stinking, sinning, dirty Gentiles into the people of God, and such inconvenient, impractical and idealistic priority given to serving the poor?While we can’t reduce Christianity to these two characteristics, they remain at the very heart of the types of attitude and action that should characterise Christians.Welcoming Gentiles Today
It’s hard to imagine just how wrong it would have felt to many faithful Jews at that time even to entertain the idea that Gentiles could be justified by God simply by faith – no Jewish-ness (‘works of the law’ – Gal. 2:16) required. The accomplishment of Jesus had not only surpassed every hope of the Jews, but had also come with a sharp word of prophet-like judgment to them as well. All nations were supposed to be blessed in Abraham and by Abraham’s descendants. Instead, they had taken on some of the characteristics of the various empires that had continually been oppressing them. As N.T. Wright brilliantly puts it, God’s rescuers needed rescuing themselves. The invitation to Gentiles had always been open throughout Israel’s history, but for the most part, it was an invitation that wasn’t getting delivered.

The language of the New Testament is vibrantly coloured by the tension of Gentile-Jew relations, but the language of our world isn’t. Perhaps this can keep us from noticing how often we can take up the same attitude towards people who do not share our faith in Jesus. Our self-righteousness is often disgusting. In the same way that Paul talks about Gentiles ‘doing the things contained in the law’ (Romans 2:14), many people today are doing great things for the world with no faith in Jesus at all. God’s people are identified  by faith, and this doesn’t give us the right to make it harder for people that don’t look like us to come to this faith. Not only will we have to be more willing to allow them join us in our work, but we may have to humble ourselves and join them in their work.

Remembering The Poor Today
The leading apostles gave the ‘Gentile side’ of the ministry to Paul and the one thing that was of utmost importance to both of them was care for the poor. One does not have to read the Bible for very long to see how God is angered when His people don’t care for the poor. Multiple prophecy-warnings by prophets in the Old Testament, Jesus in the Gospel narratives, and the New Testament all confirm this concern of God that is to be our concern as well.

What keeps us from ‘remembering’ the poor? Allow me to suggest that our minds are on other things. If you live in a Western nation in the 21st century, that means that you are bombarded with advertising images and slogans that are determined to keep your mind on whatever it is they are trying to sell you. We need to re-capture the eager-ness of Paul and his fellow Apostles (or more importantly, the eager-ness of Jesus our Lord) to care for the poor. Comfort, convenience, home-improvement, investment (let alone drowning in debt), fashion and the like should all take a back seat to our eager-ness to remember the poor. There are countless ways to serve the needs of less privileged people around the world. We must make it our priority.