Category Archives: Haphazard

a prayer for those within empire

Last weekend I ran an event for TEAR Australia called “Come Out, My People!”: Learning to Journey Out of Empire. It featured, among others, my friends Wes Howard-Brook and Sue Ferguson Johnson speaking about the reality of empire in the Bible and in the world. They spoke about the need to discern God’s call to come out of empire and embody an alternative way of life.

This is a prayer I composed for the evening. It is a prayer for those of us living in the midst of empire who are trying to follow God’s call out of it. All present prayed it together, and I thought it may help others who are trying to live in God’s shalom amid the brutality of empire.

MCA

———-

Brueghel Tower of BabelCreator and Sustainer God,
we cry out to you from Babylon,
from empire built upon the land of people both like us and different to us,
from empire made possible by the murders and injustices of past and present.

We recognize that you have called us out of empire.
Out of a spirituality of domination and oppression.
Out of a story of exclusion and competition that leads to violence.
Out of the worship of false gods that demand our praise and obedience.

You have called us to be part of a radical alternative to empire.
Called to a spirituality of shalom and justice.
Called to the biblical story of embrace and welcome that leads to peace.
Called to the worship of the God that raised Jesus Christ from the dead.

And you have sent us into empire, in the world.
To witness to another way of justice, mercy and faithfulness.
To transform the slave economy that violates the bodies of both rich and poor and the earth itself.
To take the time necessary in a speed-addicted world to be friends, lovers, parents, carers, gardeners, advocates and peacemakers.

Creator God, our refuge and strength,
we confess we are complicit in the evils of our age.
Breathe on us as we commit ourselves to the way of Christ individually and as a community
to live in your story for the world;
to take up the heavy cross that we cannot bear alone;
to struggle for peace and justice;
to seek fullness of life for all creation;
to pray for your kingdom come.

Amen.

Matt Anslow, July 2013
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can law bring about true justice?

Below is the rough text of a talk I gave yesterday at the University of Technology Sydney. I was part of a panel who were asked the question, “Is the law sufficient to bring about true justice?”

We were each given seven minutes to give a perspective (no problem!), and thus this is only a sketch of some ideas. There was then some Q&A. I was asked to bring a perspective from a) a Christian and, b) the context of TEAR Australia’s work with the global poor. As a rich, white, educated, Western male I did my best to speak on behalf of the bottom 3-or-so-billion…

Law is a mere tool, a political construction, used by humans to achieve a certain social ends. Like any tool, it is subject to the use and abuse of the one wielding it.

Much of the time law can be understood positively – law created by those elected representatives for the good of most, of not all, people. So long as law serves in this capacity it demands our respect. Such laws help society to construct more just, albeit impersonal, structures.

However law does not always work this way. Read the rest of this entry

the gift of the kingdom

It is tempting to believe we can make the kingdom. Work a little harder, longer, better.

Myth.

Our symbols are not a shovel, a hammer and a wheel.

Our symbols are far more extravagant: rainbow, parting sea, empty tomb.

Gifts. Grace.

We may shoulder a cross but we walk in resurrection. Recreation out of nothing much – that, my friends, we cannot make.

Grass and gophers, sparrows and spiders. The gift received with gratefulness: it can’t be bought and sold.

Bring us out from exile, bring us to our home. As we work for your kingdom, set our hands aflame.

MCA

imagining: the most revolutionary thing we can do

A few days ago I posted a song of mine, entitled “Imagining”, on the Art of Resistance website. I thought I would post it here also:

Here is the blurb I wrote about the song: Read the rest of this entry

jason russell & #kony2012: playing the issue, not the person

Whether you are for, against or undecided on #Kony2012, no one would have expected to wake up to the news that one of the co-founders of the campaign, filmmaker Jason Russell, had been admitted to hospital for medical evaluation under odd circumstances.

The gleeful rants did not take long to fill the internet. Personal attacks against Russell in the aftermath of his breakdown are not hard to find as the wheels of social media turn, crushing anyone who falls in its midst.

Personally I find this both interesting and unfortunate. When #Kony2012 dropped I expressed my concerns about and overall disapproval of the campaign in a blog post which I eventually removed. One of the reasons for this removal was the personal attacks that I attracted, both from those I know and those I do not, for offering some considered cautions. I never made a personal attack against anybody involved with Invisible Children, and sought to stick to the actual issues involved. Unfortunately the same courtesy was not extended to me by some readers.

Of course I was by no means the only one offering critiques of #Kony2012. I was, however, disappointed by those whose critiques consisted solely of cruel personal jeers. Such critiques are not in any way relevant to the issues of #Kony2012 and reveal more about the authors than the targets. Read the rest of this entry

the power of introverts

Below is a beautiful TED talk by Susan Cain about the power of introverts and their place in a changing society. Whether you are an introvert, or are an extrovert who wants to understand introverts better, have a look.

There is also a great article over at The Atlantic entitled “Caring for Your Introvert”. It is not new, but it is fantastic:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2003/03/caring-for-your-introvert/2696/

MCA (INTJ)

does my guitar say anything about me?

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.

Gibson Les Paul

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

God doesn’t care about tim tebow more than 7 million dead children

About two days ago I learned who Tim Tebow is.

Since I’m Australian I am not exposed much to American Football, so I apologise to my American friends for my ignorance.

Additionally I apologise to my Australian and other non-American friends who simply don’t care.

My exposure to Tebow did not result so much from football per se as much as from Christians getting mega-excited about the new Christian-sportstar on the block who reportedly once touted the Bible passage John 3:16 on his eye-black.

One of the things I have seen in the news (and on my Facebook feed) over the past couple of days is Tebow’s “miraculous” 316 passing yards on Sunday during the NFL playoffs. Here is how CBS, the American television station who aired the game, reported the event: Read the rest of this entry

mental disability and praying for logie awards

Last night I went along to a church service with friends while staying in Brisbane. The group I joined was made up of 60% people with mental disabilities.

I was told that a number of the people present had previously attended particular Pentecostal churches, but having been prayed for for healing over varied periods of time without success some had been ostracised by these communities.

If order and predictability were what someone was after in a church service this was not the place for them – some congregants danced alternatively in the middle of songs, other shouted out comments during the proceedings and one blessed soul prayed that God would make them famous and give them a Logie* award. Two members even declared their marital engagement during the announcement time, though I was told that this was a regular occurrence, often between different people.

In the midst of such “chaos” I must tell you that I sensed the presence of God more potently than I have in a long time. Read the rest of this entry

calling all heretic dogs: disagreement and respect

Have you ever experienced the ugliness of Christians savaging each other over theological disagreements?

Why do we do it to each other?

Yes that’s right, we. I use the word “we” for two reasons; the first is that I am as guilty as anyone, the second is to emphasise the inclusiveness of Christ and that we all Christians are brothers and sisters in him.

Today I was asked if I would write more posts on the topic of violence in the Old Testament (see my last post). My response was that though I am sure my views about the Old Testament and biblical interpretation will be given a respectful hearing by most people, there are those who will respond with an ugly disrespect that I am not, at this particular point in time, willing to incite.

Maybe you have felt the same. Read the rest of this entry

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