Monthly Archives: February 2012
Below is an article by Walter Brueggemann entitled “Enough is Enough”. Brueggemann is a world-renowned Old Testament scholar, prolific author and a prophetic voice in a world dying for lack of imagination. I don’t normally post exterior articles, but this is more than worth the exception.
Source: The Other Side, November-December 2001, Vol. 37, No. 5.
“In feeding the hungry crowd, Jesus reminds us that the wounds of scarcity can be healed only by faith in God’s promise of abundance. “
by Walter Brueggemann
We live in a world where the gap between scarcity and abundance grows wider every day. Whether at the level of nations or neighborhoods, this widening gap is polarizing people, making each camp more and more suspicious and antagonistic toward the other.
But the peculiar thing, at least from a biblical perspective, is that the rich – the ones with the abundance – rely on an ideology of scarcity, while the poor – the ones suffering from scarcity – rely on an ideology of abundance. How can that be? The issue involves whether there is enough to go around – enough food, water, shelter, space. An ideology of scarcity says no, there’s not enough, so hold onto what you have. In fact, don’t just hold onto it, hoard it. Put aside more than you need, so that if you do need it, it will be there, even if others must do without. Read the rest of this entry
What is your opinion on evolutionary theory vs. creation theory?
I have been apart of a discussion where both sides were argued, the evolutionary theory being that God instigated or created the cellular/atomic structure that began evolution, and that Adam and Eve are the result of the human evolution from cells to animals to primates to people, and the garden of Eden only begins after all the evolving is finished. I had not really heard this theory before, and find it somewhat uncomfortable, as I was a pure creationist at the time, but given that believing either theory doesn’t really change anything in the course of Jesus coming here and dying, I really don’t know what to think.
Evolution is far from proven, but according to the majority of biologists it is the best theory (or theories) we have right now. Might it be developed in the future? Yes. Will it be changed? Yes. Will it be disproven? Maybe. Would that “prove” creationism? No – disproving evolution does not prove creationism.
There is a lot I could talk about here, including the false paradigm of debating faith and science, and also issues in modern scientific philosophy. What is my personal opinion? At this point I believe in evolution, inasmuch as it is the best option out there that I know of. Many people will disagree, and that’s fine.
But that is a moot point, since I am no biologist. What is important for me as an exegete is how we read the Bible. The pertinent question is, does the Bible have anything to say about the prehistory of the world and humanity? Read the rest of this entry
An interesting and revealing article appeared on a Patheos blog some days ago claiming that the current and standard Evangelical view on abortion, that human life unquestioningly begins at conception, can in fact be traced to a point no less recently than 30 years ago.
In his post, entitled The ‘biblical view’ that’s younger than the Happy Meal, Fred Clark shows quite convincingly that the contemporary black-and-white approach to abortion, an approach that has been taken for granted by many as simply biblical, was not in fact the view of conservative Evangelicals 30 years ago. Read the rest of this entry
From Fr. John Dear in his book Put Down Your Sword:
For years, one of my friends, the legendary folksinger Pete Seeger, has questioned friends and audiences who feel hopeless. “In the early 1970s,” he asks, “did you ever expect to see President Nixon resign because of Watergate?”
“No,” people answer.
“Did you ever expect to see the Pentagon leave Vietnam the way it did?”
“No, we didn’t,” everyone answers.
“In the 1980s, did you expect to see the Berlin Wall come down so peacefully?” Pete asks.
“No, never,” they respond.
“In the 1990s, did you expect to see Nelson Mandela released from prison, apartheid abolished, and Mandela become president of South Africa?”
“Never in a million years.”
“Did you ever expect the two warring sides of Northern Ireland to sign a peace agreement on Good Friday?”
“If you can’t predict those things,” Pete concludes, “don’t be so confident that there’s no hope! There’s always hope!”
We do not know what the future will bring. We cannot see where the road is leading. We know the sufferings, wars, and injustices tearing us apart, but we do not know the outcome. And so we cannot presume that there is no hope of a new world of peace.
We only know our mission, our vocation, our duty is to proclaim God’s reign of peace and resist the anti-reign of war.
We know that the God of peace is alive and active among the struggling people of the world. We know that if we repent of our violence and take up God’s way of nonviolence, the world can be transformed into a haven of harmony for everyone. We know that if we stay on the road to peace, one day we will enter God’s house of peace and meet the God of peace face-to-face.
The key, then, is to remain faithful to the journey of peace, to take the next step on the path of nonviolence, to join hands with one another and walk forward with hope.
I regularly need to be reminded…
Below is a story from a friend named Caley. Caley is 17 and just finished school. She also just went on a trip to Western Kenya as part of one of TEAR Australia’s Development Educations Experience Programs (DEEPs). Caley writes:
We went to learn about what effective development looks like, and to meet people whose lives have been changed by the programs that TEAR supports. One of the things many Kenyans said to me while I was there, was to tell Australians about their story when I returned. I want to do that now!
Below she recounts a story that relates to climate change and its effects on the poor in Kenya. I hope you find this story as moving and challenging as I did. (Note: this story is unedited.)
Sitting under a tree, on the dusty earth, were four Kenyan men. On a small solar powered radio they were listening to a sermon. We were on a tour of the village and we stopped to talk to them. It was the words of one of these men that changed my perceptions about climate change, and deeply convicted me about the action I need to take against it.
I did not catch the name of the eldest man under the tree. I remember his words though: “The sun is squashing us” he said. “We pray for rain and it feels like the devil replies”. Read the rest of this entry
Wondering what you think of this video, leaked on to YouTube on Friday (Sorry to my non-Australian readers for the Australian political content).
[UPDATE: Due to there being some confusion as to why this video was posted - I am interested in the implications this video has for Australian politics and the related 24-hour news cycle. Why is our media enthralled by a video of a politician swearing when there are far more important things going on in the world, including in Australia's domestic politics? What does it reflect about the climate of domestic politics?]
Warning: This post is almost completely untheological. Non-guitarists may wish to click off now – you may get bored!
Guitarists, you may be deeply offended by my opinions (I know how personally we take out tastes in guitars…)
Some of my readers may be aware that I enjoy playing, writing and recording music. These days it’s nothing serious – I just enjoy it.
My journey through guitars is interesting, to me at least, and I wonder whether it reflects anything about me as a person.
I first started playing music at 14 when I picked up the bass. From there I added the guitar and then other instruments subsequently.
My first guitar was a cheapy, but the guitar I aspired to was the Gibson Les Paul. As a teenager there was something about this guitar that just stood out to me. Guitarists often know Les Pauls for their attitude, their fat, punchy, thick sound, and their heavy weight.
For non-guitarists who have bothered to get this far, think songs featuring Slash from Guns ‘n’ Roses, Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin or Pete Townshend from The Who for famous and typical examples of the Les Paul sound.
The rougher edged growl of the Les Paul sound resonated with me, and so when I eventually bought one I thought I had found my perfect guitar.
But tastes change. People change. Read the rest of this entry
The following post is a response to an article in Christianity Today entitled “The Best Ways to Fight Poverty—Really“ by Mark Galli (editor). It is worth reading Mark’s article before launching into mine.
The Better Ways to Fight Poverty – Really: A Response to Mark Galli
In Christianity Today’s February issue Cover Story, “The Best Ways to Fight Poverty—Really“, Mark Galli offers a thought-provoking sketch of the current state of global poverty and a generous critique of action on poverty within the Church.
Galli’s insights, however, are undermined by a number of critical flaws, notably his understanding of development, global poverty trends and the intersection of eschatology and Christian and ecclesial practice. Perhaps most concerning is Galli’s interpretation of poverty and Christian action within the biblical narrative.
There is no doubting Galli’s concern for Christians to engage with the poor. “It would be foolish to stop caring for the poor,” he says, “We are not called to obey Jesus only if our efforts are guaranteed to make a difference.” To that I say, Amen.
Galli, however, goes on to suggest that such Christian engagement with the poor is meant to be personal, in the sense that it should not attempt to go beyond the level of individual charity into the realm of “national and global initiatives”. In other words, Galli does not believe it is the task of the Church to attempt to end poverty, but merely to bind the wounds of those who must endure it. Read the rest of this entry
I am enjoying reading your blogs on life remixed, especially the most recent on non violence and the debate that it is raising, brilliant, well done.
As you are one of the few who like to challenge the orthodox and traditional Christian beliefs there are a couple of bible verses that Christian Fundamentalists quote incessantly to justify that Christianity is the only way to salvation and therefor all other faiths / religions are false. One of these verses is John 14:6 which seems extremely exclusive and supports the Fundamentalists teachings. This teaching is to the detriment of billions of people all over the world who are not Christians due to the simple fact of where they were born and the culture and beliefs of their parents.
Thanks so much for the great question. I think it is a really important issue in the context of our pluralistic culture. In regards to John 14:6: there is perhaps no verse that has been interpreted with greater arrogance. 99% of the time I have, like you, heard it used as proof that other religions are false and that to enter heaven one must believe in Jesus. It has been used for so long by some groups for the purpose of asserting faith in Jesus as the sole way of salvation that we have stopped asking what the verse might actually mean in its context! Read the rest of this entry