NT Wright on dropping African debt

Interesting piece by NT Wright (as usual), defending his opinion that the massive debts that many African countires owe to Western countries and banks should be canceled.  Here’s a few quotes to whet your appetite:

In the 1970s, for example, Western financial institutions loaned the best part of a billion dollars to Idi Amin of Uganda – a vicious psychopath and known to be such. By doing so, they not only saddled that impoverished country with a millstone of debt, but financed the dictator’s reign of terror. These actions were both financially irresponsible and morally reprehensible. After Amin’s fall, the debts were inflated by massive rates of compound interest (up to 20% p.a.!) resulting mainly from economic policies pursued by the developed world, not least as long-term results of the Bretton Woods agreement. At the same time, the bottom fell out of the market for Uganda’s main exports.

Here in North East England, Christian Aid received an unsolicited email from Dr Simon Challand, when he was working in southern Uganda with the Church Mission Society. He wrote that: “Debt relief means money stays in the country instead of pouring out to Europe and the US and there have been huge improvements in health and education… The Ministry of Health has just increased the grant to all the health centres by 85%… four years ago they got nothing. Many health centres are able to provide immunisation, growth monitoring, health education and antenatal care to remote rural areas… Everywhere you go you can see new classrooms going up to support the Universal Primary Education programme which gives every child 7 years of free schooling.” [Uganda used its first tranche of debt relief to improve basic medical provision and to abolish fees for primary school.]

Read the whole thing here.

(HT: Emergent Village blog)

Israel vs Palestine: Is there a “third way”?

Fantastic article called Israel/Palestine: Which Side Are You On?

Here are a few good quotes, but you should definitely read the whole thing:

Every time I read the two sides on the Middle East conflict, I can’t help but notice a strange resemblance in their narratives. There is the common sense of gloom, for one. There is, of course, the mutual finger-pointing. And there is the insistence that the core identity of the other is inherently violent, that the people over there are simply dominating by nature – and therefore must be stopped at all costs

Most Sundays, I would have just shook my head and flipped the page. I’ve heard it all before. We all have. Each side has a library full of facts and stories championing their cause, and demonizing the other side.

But on Saturday, at the Pangea Day Film Festival in Los Angeles, I saw things that flipped the script. I watched a segment of Encounter Point, a film about Israelis and Palestinians who are part of the Bereaved Families Forum. Each lost an immediate relative in the conflict, but they had decided that forgiveness was the weapon they would wield instead of revenge.

Robi Damelin, an Israeli mother read a letter she had sent to the family of the man who murdered her son: “Nothing for me is more sacred than human life. No revenge or hatred can ever bring my child back … We are looking for ways to create a dialogue, with a long-term vision of reconciliation.”

(HT: Brian McLaren)

On the topic of Global Warming/Climate Change…

I’m having a pretty heated discussion over at the Catalyst Blog concerning Global Warming/Climate Change. I wanted to carry on that discussion over here as well, and see if there is anyone on here that wanted to chime in.

In my understanding of the Bible, God has appointed humans as the caretakers of His “garden”, so I think this is an important issue to sift through, provided we can keep it civil. 😉

Drop a comment here, or over at the original post.

love never fails

“A moment on the last night of the gathering will stay with me as an icon of what we were about. I was speaking with a rabbi with whom I had been in several sessions. A Muslim woman from our group came up with her husband and we began saying our goodbyes. The rabbi looked at the two Muslims and said, “I see the light of God in you. You are radiant with the image of God.” The Muslim woman said, “I feel I have a new brother in my family.” A small gesture, you might say, fragile as a snowflake, easily extinguished by the avalanche of weapons and tsunamis of propaganda that sow distrust rather than mutual regard and affection. But I couldn’t help but think of Paul’s pregnant phrase: love never fails.”

Dialogue at Davos (by Brian McLaren)

“Deep Church”

Interesting post here, about something people are calling “Deep Church” or “Deep Ecclesiology.”

It sounds like it’s the name for an effort to find, and focus on, the positive aspects of the Church through all of history (including recent history) rather than the (simpler) method of focusing on what we think has been wrong.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have focused on what’s wrong far too many times, so this is a breath of fresh air for me.  It’s much easier to see what’s going wrong than it is for us to overlook what’s wrong and see past it to what is right

But the big question then becomes: what does it actually LOOK LIKE for people to start living this “deep church”?  Seems like the answer to that is going to be something that’s up to all of us to create…  What will we do to make this a reality?  What will it take?

A European Christian’s perspective…

Ran into this small quote today, and found it to be very convicting… I believe the commenter is from Denmark (based on his blog’s address) but I could be wrong. It’s nice, in my opinion, to hear from someone outside of America. Helps me to remember that we’re not the center of the universe…

This comment was in response to a discussion concerning alcohol; specifically in relation to the traditional American-Christian belief that Christians should abstain from alcohol consumption. Here’s what Danny had to say:

Hi, this largely seems to be an american problem. Here in europe, where there are also alcohol problems, this issue is not as hardly pressed…

…Instead of forbidding alcohol, can’t we teach our people how to handle it correctly? There are more fat americans that die than drunk americans. How can american christianity be so blind in regards of discovering its real problems?

I think he makes a pretty good point… am I off base?