A few things that have got me thinking and musing this week.
Justice and phones
Via Robin Peake
One of a few helpful pieces from Tearfund Rhythms on phones and conflict minerals. One of the reasons why I bought a Fairphone – topic of a future blog!
Via Gary Lineker
Great piece from the Telegraph on the farce that is FIFA.
Via Tom Baker
From the US – What is the most effective form of political campaigning and why is it not used as it should be? I resonated with this in terms of my likelihood to vote for candidates I have the opportunity to engage with on the doorstep.
Via Pete Greig
How Lambeth Palace is worth listening to again and Justin Welby’s taking on of Wonga and payday loan companies by providing an alternative.
How the Swedes have tackled traficking with incredible results.
Young people, riots and character
Via Robin Peake
The results of a study into young people participating in riots in London revealed that the key factor was not lack of money or lack of morality but lack of character. What follows is an interesting discussion on defining and developing character in young people.
On the need for visionary planner more passionate about flourishing than bowing to the whims of developers.
Leadership, change and church
Via David Fitch
Despite my not being a fan of numbered lists there is some helpful stuff in here on leading change in churches and some of the many objections…
And finally a couple of tunes for the weekend…
Leonard Cohen – Did I Ever Love You?
And Springsteen from Dublin back in 2006 – When the Saints Go Marching In
Those who have known me a long time can relate many stories of Sam’s justice crusades and rants. From that life-changing four weeks in Tanzania with Tearfund back in 1998, being chained to the QUB railings as part of Jubilee 2000, to countless campaigns and rants over injustice.
I’ve always held a strong sense of justice and realised a few years ago unsurprisingly that it is one of my values. I’m not sure what happened but it feels like it dulled (or changed) over the last few years. I guess life happens. Moving city, country. Stress. Conflict. Changing jobs. Starting something. Death and grief. Marriage. Living. Maybe losing a community of people also passionate about those things…
Fear not. The justice mojo is returning. Timed perfectly with the advent of parenthood. Inspired by some friends who in the face of tragedy and the reality of sweatshops decided not to sit still but do something constructive. Andy and Andy decided to give away their wardrobe and replace it with clothes they knew were made by people who were treated fairly. Documenting their journey and reviewing their clothes at Who Made My Wardrobe (with a great website too) inspired me again that taking small actions adds up and I can make a difference. As a result my next t-shirt purchases were from Rapanui (right). they make some great t-shirts – the bamboo ones being amazingly soft.
At the end of their journey Andy and Andy realised that the ethical clothing market was still very small. Some ethical clothing is, let’s be honest not exactly cool, and some almost prohibitively expensive.
And so they decided to set up their own label. Visible clothing was born off the back of a successful crowdfunding campaign. Taking part in that and sharing parts of their journey on social media was a significant step in helping remind me that I could make a difference.
Watch their story here
Andy and Andy inspired me and reminded me of a few things
- it is possible to do something – we don’t have to feel overwhelmed
- my buying choices make a difference
- the importance of community – sharing their story reminded me i’m not alone in wanting to engage on these issues, and without their example and inspiration I’d still be living in conflict with my values. (I’m thankful too for Robin who has also been blogging and acting on this stuff).
- you never know what will happen when you take a risk and start small
I’m thankful to Andy and Andy for helping reignite my passion to act and live more justly. I want to do my best to make sure the people who make what I wear/eat/consume are paid fairly and treated justly. I’m excited to see where the Visible journey will go and am committed to making more ethical decisions when it comes to purchasing clothes.
And maybe little Colm will become a justice crusader too… Best get him started young. Now ethical baby/children’s clothing – there is another discussion/blog post…
“Picture by picture, the criminals are being identified and arrested”
So said David Cameron today of the rioters and looters. They will be arrested and charged and then jailed? Alan Sugar is leading a campaign from his twitter account to name, shame and identify all those involved. Fair enough. The reasons why this has happened are complex, and we need a justice system, people need to be punished. But is the answer simply to send people to prison? Does a prison sentence prevent someone from re-offending?
A study by the British Ministry of Justice seemed to suggest that short sentences aren’t particularly effective in reducing re-offending rates. Admittedly the difference in this study between community sevice and jail terms isn’t that significant, but surely it is a start.
Britain and Ireland’s jails are bursting at the seams. Is it time to rethink how we punish criminals? It seems to me especially with the current riots that throwing rioters in jail although retributive isn’t going to be effective in reforming their characters. I guess only God can ultimately do that. Do we need more of a restorative justice system? With the rioters and looters should they be put to work in repairing what they have destroyed, or put to work in serving communities, in restoring vandalised and damaged parks, playgrounds, gardens and estates?
I realise there is no simple answer and even to change the justice system slowly is difficult but surely it is time to think carefully about how much it is possible to reform and punish people without simply resorting to jail.
What is God’s (and your) vision for the city? This question perhaps sums up the Urban Nation conference (hosted by Tearfund, IBI and iMAP)a couple of weeks ago. Over the course of the day various speakers explored what this looks like in different contexts – from creating community by developing a theology of hope based on children, justice, community and beauty (Joe Donnelly) to making the most of our relational networks to influence the influencers.
It was inspiring and encouraging to be united with people from churches across the city, coming together to wrestle with how we can ‘seek the good of the city’. Keynote speaker Joel Edwards of the Micah Network left us with plenty of questions to ponder such as:
How do our church budgets reflect the social needs of our area?
What is the difference between a church coexisting with a community and a church penetrating and transforming a community?
Do we have a theology of well-being that goes beyond Jesus sorting out your problems?
For me the lasting challenge was his comment that
“inner city mission can only happen through partnership.”
My experience of church has always been that of tending to go it alone but if we truly want to seek the good of the community God has placed us in – who do we need to partner with to make an impact? Is there any point starting something new when another voluntary organisation is doing the same thing?
38 years on after a £195 million 12 year inquiry, Lord Saville’s results were finally published today finding that:
“None of the casualties shot by soldiers of Support Company was armed with a firearm or (with the probable exception of Gerald Donaghey) a bomb of any description. None was posing any threat of causing death or serious injury. In no case was any warning given before soldiers opened fire.
“None of the casualties was posing a threat of causing death or serious injury, or indeed was doing anything else that could on any view justify their shooting.”
David Cameron has called the killings “unjustified and unjustifiable”. Much will be written, many opinions are now being given by those more eloquent than this child of the troubles, and by those who suffered loss on both ‘sides’. Perhaps today will mark another watershed in the complex history of Northern Ireland. Our only hope for the future is one of forgiveness, or at least a willingness to draw a line and choose to work together for a shared future. Much in the way one relative of one of those killed bravely said that he was happy it was finally over, and that he wasn’t interested in seeing any of the soldiers involved go to prison.
Watching one version of events tonight, Bloody Sunday with U2’s song as its theme reminded me of the poignant version of the song from Rattle and Hum on the day of the Enniskillen Bomb, a song that finishes with the hope of the resurrection.
UPDATE – Bono gives his view on events in a New York Times Op-Ed.
So sometimes people will say that it is not the place of Christians to fight for justice, to fight against structural injustice in governments or trade systems, or to be green warriors crusading for the environment. Our task is for the higher purpose of tending to people’s souls. I’ve long had problems with this, and yes I am caricaturing a little but to be honest very little. The problem with taking such an approach is that it is verging on dualism, on even gnosticism. It implies that all that matters is the ‘spiritual’, the physical world is bad and will be burned up so lets concentrate on the spiritual. It sounds reasonable in some ways. But stop and think about it for a moment. Why did Jesus rise bodily from the dead? If the physical is not important surely he would simply have risen as a spirit? Why did he go to such lengths like eating, and having people touch him to show that he was a real physical person? Is it not because in the resurrection we see that God desires to restore the physical creation?
Take another perspective. We all recognise that we will never be completely holy until Jesus returns. Does this mean we give up on pursuing holiness? The same in terms of care of creation and justice. Yes we will not restore them completely, that will only happen when Jesus returns, but that doesn’t mean that there is little we can do so we don’t bother. Jesus announced that God’s kingdom had come. Jesus came to demonstrate what life in God’s kingdom – as God would have it – was like. He calls us to do the same. He asks us to pray ‘your kingdom come, your will be done, on earht as it is in heaven’, so of course we are to pursue the care of creation and justice, because when in those small moments when we see justice, or people are stewarding God’s good creation as He called us to, there are glimpses of God’s kingdom as it will be. It inspires us with the hope of what is to come. It shows people what God is like, and his plan for redemption and restoration covers every part of life. We are not disembodied souls being whisked off to the clouds, we are real flesh and blood, feeling people, living in a physical environment. Everything is God’s. He is restoring everything. and obviously humans are the pinnacle of that restoration. Just because I believe God calls us to pursue justice and care for creation doesn’t mean I am not passionate about god restoring and reconciling people to himelf as part of that.
when we talk and think about these things, let’s make sure our thinking is joined up and not fragmented. Lets not slip into simply reacting against someone else and going to the extremes. Let’s have a big view of a huge God that is holistic.
(Can you tell what I am currently reading?)
JustLife is an initiative set up by a group of us based around a Tearfund event last Saturday called ‘Invest for Life’. JustLife is a space dedicated to exploring the connections between faith, money, justice and lifestyle.
‘Invest for Life’ was about money – the theology and practice of giving, budgeting, investing and using our money for the good of ourselves and the world around us.
JustLife is designed to help us go deeper on some of the issues that are raised at the event. Every Wednesday until the 25 March, a group of us involved in Invest for Life will be posting short pieces discussing topics like fair-trade, ethical banking, giving and sustainable living. We hope you’ll feel free to join in the conversation.
I’ve just posted my contribution on giving…