Tuesday, 30 November 2010
Thursday, 2 September 2010
"Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about human beings. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.' "For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care about people, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!'
Tuesday, 31 August 2010
Thursday, 26 August 2010
Tuesday, 24 August 2010
Saturday, 21 August 2010
I thought this speech by Chris Hedges was excellent. He mentions Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish. Abuelaish shot to notoriety when Israeli TV had lined him up (a Palestinian doctor) to talk about the situation in Gaza. I guess he was a safe bet as he worked with Israelis and Palestinians. However, on live TV he tells the audience that his home has just been hit by a tank shell and his three daughters killed. (see here) He has since only spoken of forgiveness and reconciliation. He has a book out in January I'm hoping to buy.
Monday, 9 August 2010
6th August is also the anniversary of a less auspicious event. On 6th August 1945, someone climbed, not a holy mountain, but into the cockpit of a plane - and dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. 150,000 people were killed. Other people later died from the effects of atomic radiation. 75,000 buildings were destroyed. The world has never been the same.
There was a voice booming from heaven. Here, too, was brightness, brilliant as burning magnesium. Here, too, a cloud that has come and has covered us all with its shadow. Truly, under the shadow of this new cloud, we are right to feel afraid.
Look at the shape of that cloud. It is the new tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We have eaten of its fruit and we shall never be the same again. Our good knowledge of the workings of God's beautiful creation has been turned to evil and annihilation.
We should pray and work for a nuclear free world. As Britain, inscrutably, renews its nuclear arsenal, let us protest, conscious that Jesus would say today: "you have learnt that nuclear war is evil, but I say this to you, do not war at all, do not hate, do not harbour a grudge, do not envy, do not bully, do not gossip for all these are the seeds of which the bomb is but the fruit".
We commemorate Hiroshima day, world peace day, by telling again the story of another climb, another light, another voice, another cloud. Jesus was speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish in Jerusalem. The cloud of evil hung over Jesus, just as it does us, but he was not overcome by it. Evil does not have the final word, and so it is today. Let us not be overcome by evil – either in ourselves or in the world.
Adapted from here.
Sunday, 8 August 2010
Saturday, 1 May 2010
It would need something pretty special to break my recent silence on this blog, but I guess the shooting of three children in their school is a pretty good reason. During my recent visit to Palestine, I went to a school where three pupils had been shot through the head the previous week for looking towards a Jewish settlement. In another school, one teacher left early to receive his son home from prison, after 18 months without charge. Another young prisoner was not so lucky. He had been beaten to death. I could go on... The situation in Palestine is much much worse than I ever imagined. Most of the men appear to have been in prison, for no other reason than being Palestinians. The ones I met were good people and certainly not terrorists.
Tuesday, 12 January 2010
Tuesday, 17 November 2009
Wednesday, 11 November 2009
Sunday, 8 November 2009
Thursday, 5 November 2009
I love this picture. It was drawn by a pupil in Palestine and given to me as part of the exchange programme we are running. It shows the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem and the way Palestinians are forbidden access to it, even though it is in their city. This only touches the tip, though, of the human rights abuses Palestinians face on a daily basis. Another picture given to me (since destroyed in the rain) was a picture of a pupil’s home – a tent. His parents were forced out of their homes 40 years ago and are now living in camps. They have lost all rights to their homes and aren’t even allowed to travel into Israel, let alone go back to their home towns. Every day Palestinians face humiliating and intimidating treatment at the hands of Israeli soldiers. An enormous wall has been erected around the West Bank. One school we are linked with is on the wrong side of the wall. Each day pupils must go through the wall. It is only open between 7am and 7.30. Sometimes soldiers arrive early and pupils miss getting through. They have to wait at the wall until 2 o’clock before it opens again.
I know a lot of this is familiar to most of you who are reading this, but I just want to make a point about Christian allegiances in this conflict. Many Christians have an instinctive support for Israel, based on the fact that they were the people of God in the Old Testament and that they were promised the land of Israel “for ever as an everlasting possession.” Whatever you think of these promises, and the extent to which they are still applicable today, it seems to me there is one thing we could all agree on: Israel, in the Bible, was never beyond criticism – even damning criticism - when it neglected justice. Jesus called Jerusalem to repentance (Luke 13:34). In fact the promises to Israel were conditional (Lev. 20:22) and in the New Testament, John the Baptist railed at those who claimed exemption from judgement by claiming, "We have Abraham as our father." (Matthew 3:9) We, also, should not support Israel while it engages in the confiscation of property and racial apartheid, simply on the basis that Abraham was their father. It was always the extent to which they followed justice that determined whether or not they were the people of God.
“Keep all my decrees and laws and follow them, so that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out.” (Lev. 20:22)
Sunday, 25 October 2009
Having read Brueggemann's book recently - Texts Under Negotiation: The Bible and the Postmodern Imagination - I just want to say that I think it is outstanding. Brueggemann is a brilliant writer and thinker and I think in this book he hits the nail on the head in terms of the direction the church should take and the role of the Bible in the postmodern world. What I like about it is:
- He understands the power of the 'story' (or 'propaganda', depending which word you want to use). Advertisers wouldn't spend so much on telling us their story if it didn't matter.
- He understands the key role of the Bible in countering that story. If a biblical counter-imagination is not employed, "the Christian congregation will rely on the dominant infrastructure of consumerism." For me, this is why the Bible really matters - the insfrustructure of consumerism is debilitating and dehumanising.
- He makes the Bible utterly relevant to our age, without being under the thumb of postmodern preoccupations.
- He demonstrates brilliantly the signifance of the Bible as story, rather than a set of propositions.
- It is hopeful, yet academically rigerous. So often academia can lead to cynicism and can get caught up in concerns about modernist truth claims. Somehow he remains utterly postmodern, academic, yet faithful and hopeful.
Nothing I have read in ages has inspired me so much. Read it and enjoy.
Friday, 23 October 2009
St Mary's Community Centre, Sheffield
with...Anne Pettifor Leader of Jubilee 2000, author of The Real World Economic Outlook (2003) and The Coming First World Debt Crisis (2006)
Cathy McCormack, Grassroots activist & author of The Wee Yellow Butterfly
Professor Tim Jackson, Sustainable Development Commissioner, author of Prosperity without growth?
“It began with a squeeze, then the squeeze became a crunch and the crunch became a downturn and the downturn became a crisis. A crisis of faith as the temple of Mammon on which we have all sought to build our economic prosperity was tried in the fire of truth, honesty and reality, and was revealed to have shaky foundations. …When the day of reckoning came - and there is always a day of reckoning - the winds of truth blew away the countless houses of cards.” John Sentamu, Archbishop of York
What are the immediate and longer-term impacts of the economic crisis for those directly affected?
Do we need to fundamentally rethink our idea of prosperity?
What can be done to build a major just, equal and sustainable society and economy in future?
What positive contribution can faith communities make?