Morpheus, The Matrix.Have you found yourself feeling that way? You've been involved in church life maybe for years, but you just have this sense that something's not quite right. There's a splinter in your brain or your soul. You can't get away from it. Neither could we. Who are we? We're Lois Mitchell and Marilyn Smith, part of the new Justice Initiative at Canadian Baptist Ministries. We've been doing a lot of reading and thinking lately about global issues. There's lots of stats - I'm sure you've heard some of them. Things like:
- 20% of the world consumes 80% of the resources
- only 8% of people in the world own a vehicle
- 826 million people will go to bed hungry
- 1 in 5 people in the world don't have access to clean water
You get the picture. What does God think of all this? As we look at the injustices in the world we'll look at ways to begin to dislodge that splinter. That's what this blog is about - living simply, giving generously and practicing hospitality.
What would our communities look like if our churches actually do this as the primary expression of their faith in Christ?
What do you think?
Lois and Marilyn,
Welcome to blogging.
There is an obvious discomfort when I hear the stats you qoute, once again realize that our western comfort zone makes us simply want to throw money at the problem to make it go away like a nagging teenager. I'm afraid that the chuch is no different than the secular masses in this regard and in fact many secular organizations are leading the way on justice issues. I'm excited to have a spot where these issues can be talked about not only coneptually but with practicality for individuals and corporate bodies as well.
PS Was I first to comment!
I read with interest the comment on Lent as a discipline and the comment that 20% use 80% of the world's resources.
How about a rereading of Genesis 1 & 2 on how the Lord Put Adam and Eve in the garden to take care of it.
What if part of the discipline of Lent would be to teach these chapters to our churches that humans are to be taking care of God's creation not using up it's resources.
Link this to how we treat the earth and how we use the world's resouces.
One of the onteresting things for me is being married to an indigenous person. Antonia tells me the Aimara and the Quechua took care of the earth and the resources; but the Spanish came and ruined everything.
Poverty came to Bolivia and the Andean countries because the Spanish used and abused the resouces of the Andean world.
Can we not look at how the indigeneous people treat the world, and the world's resouces, or are we so Eurocentric that we can't be bothered. It seems to me we could learn something from the first nations of the Americas continents.
Art R. Wormald
A concern for the environment is a natural extension of a vow of generosity I think. When we begin to examine our lifestyles and see how wasteful and destructive they are, not only of the environment but of cultures, we begin to see and think differently. But how can this translate into action? It's very easy to adopt the attitude that it's too late or it doesn't really matter that much. Have we become desensitized to the alarms being sounded by scientists and environmentalists? Maybe some Christians think Christ's return is so imminent that it really doesn't matter, but I'd suggest that that kind of thinking is irresponsible and will leave a very diminished legacy for our children and grandchildren. I think you're quite right - we could learn a lot from first nations peoples. But will we? I hope so!!
I read with interest the response to my comments. I find it takes a while to educate people in the issues. You have to know your stuff to engage others.
But, once they see it is in their personal interests, and yes it is Christian, then a "conversion "happens. I was part of the El Salvador solidarity network at McMaster University during the civil war in El Salvador.
A guy came in the chaplain's office, a 1st year student, and when he hear what we were doing he said everyone was communist. But, When the chaplain, and some others took hin on, this made him think. This guy was Christian Reformed. When he listened and saw a lot of Christians engaged in justice for El Salvador, he did an about turn and joined the Amnesty International group at McMaster that I was a part of.
Mike has gone on to be a Christian Reformed pastor; but i know he still carries on from his "conversion" at McMaster. He is having an influence.
It, in my experience, is winning people one at a time. It is time consuming but well worth it when someone comes over to justice.
One person at a time, eh? I think you're right, though it seems pretty slow. I wonder though, if it's slow at first but gains momentum as time goes on and more and more individuals start to think and act differently. Maybe it's just me, but lately it seems like there are more and more people, for diverse backgrounds and cirumstances, asking the same kinds of questions.
For some, asking questions is an indication of a lack of faith, but for me, it's the fleshing out of faith. It's really understanding Jesus and the things he did and taught. It's integrating faith with life and participating in a God's kingdom in a meaningful way. Specifically, it's seeing the world - maybe just a glimpse more than a detailed look - from God's perspective. It's personal - yes. But it's not private in that when we live as Jesus wants us to, we'll have an impact on the world around us.
I think that it takes time to do this like the way a tree grows. Or historically this is how the anti-slavary movement wiped out slavary. It is slow and steady and with prayer. I saw a mini-documentary on TVOntario on this. Christians in England knew they couldn"t wipe out slavary as a whole. So, they spoke one on one to Christians and to Christian politicians. Then, they were specific in their goal. They worked on abolishing the actual trade of slave from Africa to what is now, the U.S.
Wilberforce was one of those who championed the cause in the English parliament.
This is what Tommy Douglas, 'One of our own " did to get the CCF started along with J.S. Woodsworth and Stanley Knowles. They met with individuals and small groups across the prairies until they were big enough to have a movement.
The same happened in El Salvador with Catholic catechists who met in small towns and did bible studies until people began to question what the bible said about their local and national relaity.
It is hard slogging, and "trench " work, but after all didn't Jesus begin with 12 and the women, and eventually they conquered the Roman empire?
If Jeus started small, and social movements started small, how about us?
I think if we do this, rather than trying to go for the big picture then there is movement.
after my last comment I realized something. We seem to think that change happens overnight and then when it dosen't happen the way we "expect" then we lose interest.
What ever happened to God's perspective? Jesus didn"t come into the world right way. It was at the height of the Roman empire, when there was one common language in the empire, which was Greek by the way. Paul the Apostle was able to communicate easily in Greek, as he was well educated for that time in history and to be educated meant one spoke and wrote in Greek.
Had Jesus come before or after the height of the Roman empire, everything would have been a failure.
Why are we so quick to give up? Lech Walensa and the ship workers prayed and organized to form the "solidarity " union in Communist Poland and they statred with a 10 year campaign of prayer. And they beat the Communists in Poland.
It is in God's timing is it not?
Secondly, Why are we focussed on the short term? Is this a North American, or Western phenomenon?
The Japanese were lousy at making cameras in the fifties; but now, you can't buy anything, but a Japanese camera. They think in the long term. Why can't we?
Lois and Marilyn,
Oh how wonderful it is to see a CBM taking part in this discussion of justice! I am a third year in interdisciplinary studies at a Bible college of sorts and this topic has been bubbling up more and more with many of those who study with and around me. I wanted to share with you all that for the first time at my college they have developed a class titled, 'Social Justice in the Old Testament' and I get the priviledge to be part of.
Although there needs much more discussion about the area of justice and the practical ways the Church needs to engage, at least the discussion has started in a formal and academic way.
Perhaps it can be encouraging to know that the pastors of our churches in the years to come will be people who have struggled and learned some about these issues.
Thanks for getting this started. Grace and Peace,
J - JUDGES AND JURIES FOR JESUS
U - UPHOLD
S - SERVANTS SURRENDERED, SAFETY SECURED
T - TROUBLED TRANSGRESSORS TRANSFORMED
I - IGNORANCE ILLUMINATED
C - CORRUPTION AND CRIME CONDEMNED
E - EVILMINDEDNESS ENDED, ENEMY EXHORTED/EXECUTED, ETERNITY ENTERED
THE LORD UPHOLDS ALL WHO FALL,
AND RAISES UP ALL THOSE WHO ARE BOWED DOWN,
THE EYES OF ALL LOOK EXPECTANTLY TO YOU, AND YOU GIVE THEM THEIR FOOD IN DUE SEASON
YOU OPEN YOUR HAND
AND SATISFY THE DESIRE OF EVERY LIVING THING
THE LORD IS RIGHTEOUS IN ALL HIS
GRACIOUS IN ALL HIS WORKS.
THE LORD IS NEAR TO ALL WHO CALL
TO ALL WHO CALL UPON HIM IN TRUTH.
HE WILL FULFILL THE DESIRE OF THOSE WHO FEAR HIM;
HE ALSO WILL HEAR THEIR CRY ALOUD AND SAVE THEM
******THE LORD PRESERVES ALL WHO LOVE HIM
BUT ALL THE WICKED HE WILL DESTROY.
Justice - Concordance words and synonym finder (no serious rhyming words found)
ears of the hearer
eyes of the blind
determining just conduct
wasteful and destructive
world resource protection for indigenous peoples
vow of generosity
desensitized to alarm sounded by
scientist and environmentalists
all culture examples of acts that
social justice in the New Testament
Thanks gals, for stimulating this mind.
Concordance words and synonym finder (no serious rhyming words found)and blog emphasis words)
ears of the hearer
eyes of the blind
determining just conduct
world resource protection for indigenous people
examples of conservation from all cultures
vow of generosity
warm handknitted mittens, scarves, hats, toques, gloves, slippers, socks, ski bands,
mission circle groups
the sharing way
hunger - did a study on this and there are so many things that
could be stopped just by being
concerned about hunger. It is another lengthy list - worth sharing.
Thanks gals, for stimulating this mind. God bless - have a really great day.
I am new at this and didn't intend
the two lists to go through quite
this way. nothing like saying something twice. perhaps you can
combine or erase on list and then not so much space will be used
Sorry - really sorry
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