Category Archives: Advocacy

the best ways to fight poverty – really???: a response to mark galli

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

beyond survival day: reflections on australia day 2012

This post is of the kind I dread most; a subject about which I am deeply convicted, that I find hard to form into a coherent discourse, and that I know will win me few friends.

However in light of the current subject my discomfort is jovial at best, and I would do well to remember that.

January 26 is a day of celebration for most Australians, of our history, identity and future. However in remembering our history many Australians prefer to screen out those episodes that do not paint the colonisers in a venerable light.

Aboriginal Nations (Click to Enlarge)

Exactly one year ago I wrote a post entitled Happy Invasion Day, a reminder of the fact that this land was taken from its first peoples. Since then I have come to prefer the label “Survival Day”, a commemoration of the fact that despite the recent history of this land the Aboriginal people are still here. Whatever the label, I can no longer celebrate Australia Day in the same way I have in years past; I cannot celebrate only the positive aspects our history knowing the pain and suffering of innocents on which it is built. Both must be acknowledged.

I do not wish to speak on behalf of Aboriginal people, for I am aware I have no right to do so. But I am also aware that Read the rest of this entry

the art of resistance

This post is going to be short and sweet. Actually, what I’m really after is your response.

I’ve been thinking about the place of art in resistance movements and social change, everything from the American Civil Rights Movement to the Jewish apocalypticists.

(Currently that Dewey Cox movie is on in the background, and he’s taking off Bob Dylan. It’s kind of off-putting given the present subject.)

So here’s what I’d really love your reflections on:

  1. What place does art (any kind) have in social change?
  2. What effects does/can it have? (feel free to include stories)
  3. What are your favourite expressions of resistance art?

Feel free to answer any or all of those broad questions.

If you know people who might be interested in this subject, or who could contribute to it, I would love for you to point them here. I think this could be a really interesting and rewarding conversation.

MCA

how does God’s kingdom relate to ruling powers?

How should Christians relate to ruling powers?

Depending on your interpretation of different sections of the Bible you might say the different authors push for:

  • Submission (the conclusion many people come to when reading Romans 13, for example, or perhaps Ezra-Nehemiah)
  • Prophetic critique and nonviolent resistance (as found in much of the prophetic literature or Revelation)
  • A middle option
  • A blend

But what are we meant to do in our contemporary world as Christians? Should we simply do what we understand early Christians to have done in relation to ruling powers?

That is to say, how do we anticipate God’s transformative kingdom on earth, now, in the midst of a world of ruling powers that very often act contrary to God’s purposes? Read the rest of this entry

for you will always have the poor with you…

Recently I was asked if I truly believed that global poverty could ever be “fixed”. The question was accompanied by a reference to Mark 14:7—“For you always have the poor with you…”

Have you ever wondered what Jesus might have meant in Mark 14:7? Was he saying that we should not bother helping the poor, since the problem of poverty will never end? Perhaps he was saying personal acts of devotion were superior to helping the poor?

Check out my latest article from TEAR’s Target Magazine, entitled “For you will always have the poor with you…“, for my perspective on this often misunderstood passage of Scripture.

MCA

what is “justice”? a christian(‘s) perspective

Justice is a slippery term.

It can be used, from one point of view or another, to describe almost any conclusion regarding moral rightness. How the scales of justice are balanced often depends on the weights placed upon them, and this is in most ways a subjective affair. These weights may come in the form of such concepts as fairness, retribution, restoration and redistribution, or more cynically in realities such as greed and self-interest.

I cannot hope to outline a comprehensive or even convincing treatise of justice in this post, though sharing a few thoughts may be in order.

From a Christian perspective justice finds its definitive bearing in God. How to understand God is, however, not an easy task given both his transcendence and our interpretative horizons and limits.

Which commands of God are just? All of them? If so is a directive to genocide, such as those in the Old Testament, to be considered just? Does our ability as humans to obey such commands affect what is commanded of us by God? Read the rest of this entry

neither refugee nor refuged: christ, empire & the unsolution

The so-called Malaysian Solution marks a terrible chapter in Australia’s immigration history.

While many people have tried to argue that Julia Gillard lied about the carbon tax, I find this argument to be wilfully ignorant of the events of the last twelve months.

Where Gillard has lied, however, is on the issue of asylum seekers. She has previously claimed that the Howard Government’s so-called Pacific Solution was, “costly, unsustainable and wrong as a matter of principle.” Read the rest of this entry

asylum seeker stories from villawood

On Saturday some friends and I went to Villawood Immigration Detention Centre to visit some Tamil Sri Lankan asylum seekers and refugees currently housed there.

I am somewhat hesitant to post this story lest it look like I am attempting to portray myself as somehow heroic. Nothing could be further from the truth since a single visit does not make me particularly compassionate or generous.

I am not going to bang on about how bad the conditions were, since visitors are confined to the visitor area and thus I did not see the living quarters etc. In saying this I think that, against my assumptions, Serco was doing a reasonable job at running the facility given that they are simply out to make a profit. My belief is that the Australian Government, with its awful policies, both past and present, is to blame for our shocking treatment of asylum seekers. I have written about this elsewhere, so back to the story.

After spending over two hours with these young men I was struck by the similarities between them and myself. Read the rest of this entry

bringing them home: saying sorry to the aboriginal people

Today (May 26th) is National Sorry Day, and it will be followed by National Reconciliation Week from May 27-June 3.

National Sorry Day was first observed in 1998, one year after a report was tabled concerning the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families. The report, entitled as Bringing Them Home, acknowledged that these children were forcibly removed from their families and communities beginning in the early days of British occupation of the land, and that the government and missionaries were most directly responsible.

Reconciliation Week begins on May 27 with the anniversary of a Referendum in 1967 which removed clauses from the Australian Constitution that were discriminatory to Aboriginal Australians.

The week ends on June 3, the anniversary of the infamous Mabo case of 1992 in which the High Court of Australia recognised Native Title rights and overturned ‘terra nullius’ (the myth that prior to European settlement the land was empty of people and was unowned.)

Clearly this is a significant time for the Aboriginal people and for all Australians. Read the rest of this entry

the parable of the neighbours and the fruit trees

Warning: this is a foray into the strange world of creative writing; this could be good, or really bad…

A rich man observed his garden and said to himself, “I must secure more fruit, for my fruit trees are old and can no longer produce enough to sell at the market.”

So the rich man quietly crossed his fence and entered the very small garden of his poor neighbour. Read the rest of this entry

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