I’m sure we’re all a little bored by the story of the collapse of the Presbyterian Mutual and the Presbyterian church’s quest to get the government to rescue it. Yes to get the government to bail out the church. I’m not as well versed with the goings on as Will and crookedshore. I’m also aware that it is very easy to take cheap shots at churches – or the institutional parts of them at least. So this post isn’t a cheap shot, it comes off the back of several conversations about a variety of things. One was to do with a view that the biggest challenge to leadership development in the church is sectarianism. Another invovled asking if the commonly perceived view that often the church turns people away from following Jesus because of its hypocrisy is not actually true, and that maybe the problem is that the church is living out what it believes. If that is the case then the gospel it believes bears little resemblence to the gospel of the Kingdom that Jesus spoke of. Another had to do with the old adage that you can tell what we value by what we do or speak up about. You may or may not be aware that 23 previous moderators of the Presbyterian Church wrote to the British and Irish governments asking them for help. Am I being too harsh in asking why when money is involved all these former moderators are happy to sign a letter? Where was such unity in speaking out against sectarianism, denials of civil rights to certain sections of the community, global injustices, in fighting for the rights of the poor and marginalised in our communities? Is this speaking out a damning indictment of previous silences? It begs the question what would I have done? What have I done? What are the things I am prepared to speak out on and get upset about? Despite what I say what does that reveal about the values deep in me and the true state of my heart?
This story is almost unbelievable. To be raped is bad enough but to then be punished for breaking social rules – a woman in the car with an unrelated man, both of whom were raped by a gang of 7 men. Not sure what happened the rapists. This from the country whose King had the audacity to tell the UK it wasn’t doing enough to fight terrorism. A country whose human rights abuses the UK is willing to turn a blind eye to as long as it can sell them weapons. I realise I am being simplistic, and was impressed that ‘The Kingdom’ tried to address some of the subtleties of life in the middle east. However this court ruling just seems crazy. So much so it leaves me speechless…
This article – Vultures leave the developing world hungry (a response to ‘How top London law firms help vulture funds devour their prey‘) made me sit bolt upright when reading my Saturday Guardian this morning. My non-economist understanding seems to be that these ‘vulture’ funds buy debt of Heavily Indebted Poor countries (HIPC’s), countries like Zambia, Congo and Tanzania which are receiving debt relief. These companies or funds then sue the governments of those countries for more than what they paid for the debt. It seems crazy, morally repungent and many other phrases that this should be allowed to happen. Talk about stealing from the poor to make money! Is this the logical conclusion of a capitalist system that is all about profit – the poor always get oppressed? The growing global rich-poor divide seems to be damning evidence. Given Gordon Brown’s commitments to the fight against global poverty I for one will be dropping him a line about this horrific state of affairs of companies making money at the expense of those who have little enough choices and hope as it is.
It reminds me of several conversations about faith and economics and remembering a comment from someone from the States who said “well, i think god would be a capitalist”. I remember the shock and horror that arose – did he just say that? Especially after an articulate explanation from a theology professor on economics and the bible. We cannot and should not equate Christian faith with one economic system but it is undeniable that a capitalist system with its exploitation of the poor is certainly less aligned with the teaching of the bible than a Christian socialist model that wants a more even distribution of wealth. Of course there are lots of caveats there. Believing that the capitalist model of free markets etc is the best way to lift people out of poverty is different that simply believing in capitalism. It worries me that the church seems to have imbibed so much of capitalism and ignored so much of the Bible, of the God who is concerned about poverty, who asks his people to look out for the poor, to live generously, who designed an economic system that would have avoided long term poverty. The example of the early church who shared everything, who gave sacrificially (as God has asked – to give/lend until the person is no longer in need, not just give a bit to ease our conscience) is one to remember. Certainly what stood out to me in Peru this summer was the thankfulness and generosity of people who were less concerned with what they had and more with how others were. Maybe on some of this the church in Europe and the States has become too ‘of the world’ as opposed to ‘in it’., we have much to learn from our brothers and sisters in the southern church.
soapbox – confusing himself with economics but the red light on his injustice-ometer is flashing brightly
**UPDATE** Tearfund’s Superbadger takes on the vultures here.
Prepare yourself for an outpouring of indignation. I have received an email from youtube informing me of a copyright infringement, and my video of the haka at the France-New Zealand Rugby World Cup Quarter Final has been removed! Not even action from the game but the haka. Waht the flip are Rugby World Cup Ltd up to? Have they nothing better to do with their time than trawl the internet and remove the slightest footage or photos of all their games? Seriously think about it – someone must be being paid from the money I paid for my ticket to trawl you tube looking for videos from matches. Do they expect us to pay to take videos and photos or something? What sort of world are they living in? Do they have Orwellian dreams and want to take on Rupert Murdoch for control of the media? Is 1984 looming? Can anyone tell me what major crime an advert for what is possibly one of the most attractive games to watch played is? I’m awaiting a writ now for criticising their small minded ridiculous pettiness, and to be told that I have to remove the photo of the French fans as it was at an official Rugby World Cup Ltd event. Maybe it should be Big business is watching instead of big brother…
the soapbox – so angry he can barely type