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)

Homelessnes in Troy, NY: “It Should be Zero”

I just found out about this site called It Should be Zero. Here’s some info from the main site:

So far in March, 39 homeless men, women, and children have been turned away from services. They aren’t asking for much — a simple meal and a warm place to stay for the night.

While some may disagree, the homeless situation isn’t getting any better. Individuals and families are routinely being turned away from much-needed help because of a lack of resources.

While there are many organizations and agencies in place to assist our citizens, more is needed.

The number shouldn’t be 39 — it should be zero.

The only ones that don’t know, are the Church (John Wimber)

Years ago in New York City, I got into a taxi cab with an Iranian taxi driver, who could hardly speak English. I tried to explain to him where I wanted to go, and as he was pulling his car out of the parking place, he almost got hit by a van that on its side had a sign reading The Pentecostal Church. He got real upset and said, “That guy’s drunk.” I said, “No, he’s a Pentecostal. Drunk in the spirit, maybe, but not with wine.” He asked, “Do you know about church?” I said, “Well, I know a little bit about it; what do you know?” It was a long trip from one end of Manhattan to the other, and all the way down he told me one horror story after another that he’d heard about the church. He knew about the pastor that ran off with the choir master’s wife, the couple that had burned the church down and collected the insurance—every horrible thing you could imagine. We finally get to where we were going, I paid him, and as we’re standing there on the landing I gave him an extra-large tip. He got a suspicious look in his eyes—he’d been around, you know. I said, “Answer me this one question.” Now keep in mind, I’m planning on witnessing to him. “If there was a God and he had a church, what would it be like?” He sat there for awhile making up his mind to play or not. Finally he sighed and said, “Well, if there was a God and he had a church—they would care for the poor, heal the sick, and they wouldn’t charge you money to teach you the Book.” I turned around and it was like an explosion in my chest. “Oh, God.” I just cried, I couldn’t help it. I thought, “Oh Lord, they know. The world knows what it’s supposed to be like. The only ones that don’t know are the Church.(emphasis mine)

(HT: Catalyst Blog -> ThinkChristian -> Jordon Cooper -> John Wimber’s Jesus’ Mandate for Justice, pg. 4)

Interview with Brian McLaren

Here’s a pretty good read if you’ve got the time; especially if you’re still not sure what you think about this Brian McLaren guy… it’s a pretty indepth snapshot of a lot of his thoughts/positions on things.  Very worth the read, in my opinion, so I thought I’d share it for those of you who are interested.

A battle cry for Christian reform – an interview with Brian McLaren

(HT: Emergent Village)

Frank Schaeffer: Why I’m Pro-Life AND Pro-Obama

I’m not making any political statements here, it’s just that I came across an article that I thought made some interesting points, and I wanted to share them here in case people were interested. The article is called:

Why I’m Pro-Life AND Pro-Obama

Here’s a couple interesting quotes:

“The so-called evangelical leadership — Dobson, Robertson et al. also played the pro-life community for suckers. While thousands of men and women in the crisis pregnancy movement gave of themselves to help women and babies, their evangelical “leaders” did little more than cash in on fundraising opportunities and represent themselves as power-brokers to the craven politicians willing to kowtow to them.”

“Regardless of the official position of the Supreme Court on abortion, a country in which all Americans are offered some sort of dignity and hopeful future would be a place conducive to the kind of optimism each of us must hold in our hearts if we are to welcome children into this world. But if our highest aspiration is to be a consumer with no thought or care for our neighbor, we will remain a culture in which abortion is not only inevitable but logical.”

“The real solution to abortion is to change the heart of America, not the law. We need to stop seeing ourselves as consumers. We need to stop seeing ourselves as me and begin to think of we. Our country needs someone to show us a better way…”

…and I think that regardless of who any of us may end up voting for in this year’s election, we can probably all agree that we need to find “a better way.”

Again, I am NOT saying that I am supporting Obama, I just merely thought this article brought up some interesting points that are worth thinking through regardless of where you land party-wise.

(HT: Bob Hyatt)

“…suffering will be healed…”

“I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage, like the despicable fabrication of the impotent and infinitely small Euclidean mind of man, that in the world’s finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, of the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, of all the blood that they’ve shed; and it will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify what has happened.”
-Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

Bob, thanks so much for sharing this…

Who says we should live by the rules?

I found out about this really interesting site/blog called Location Independent Living. It seems to be outlining how one person was able to start their own business that was not tied to a specific location (web-based, I’m guessing) and how that freed them up to do what it is they really want to be doing. In this person’s case, it seems to be to travel the world.

Check out this excerpt from the About page:

Who says you should live by the rules?

Are you fed up with having to live by the rules that say you have to work really hard, make lots of money so you can buy a house with a big mortgage that you then have to work even harder to pay off, until you can finally retire with a nice little nest egg pension…and finally start enjoying your life?

So were we…that’s why we packed in our jobs, set up our own location-independent businesses, sold our house & most of our stuff and left to travel the world indefinitely, searching for our paradise places.

I think this statement has some interesting parallels for followers of Jesus living in America today. Imagine for a moment, if we replace a few words in the last part of that statement:

Who says you should live by the rules?

Are you fed up with having to live by the rules that say you have to work really hard, make lots of money so you can buy a house with a big mortgage that you then have to work even harder to pay off, until you can finally retire with a nice little nest egg pension…and finally start enjoying your life?

So were we…that’s why we packed in our jobs, set up our own location-independent businesses, sold our house & most of our stuff and redirected our surplus of resources (time, money, creativity, etc.) towards furthering the Kingdom of God by helping those in need around us.

Granted, I don’t think we all have the know-how to setup online businesses, but the principle behind this idea, of not simply going along with the American Dream, is a good one no doubt. I haven’t heard too many Christians in America that are challenging the notion of “work really hard your entire life so that you can rest once you’re really old.”

Where’s the balance in that? There’s got to be a happy medium.

Am I taking crazy pills here? Let me know…

(HT: Lifehacker -> ZenHabits)

The Big Story

“Here’s an attempt to explain the Christian faith… in three minutes.”

This short video is based on some themes from a new book coming out called “True Story: A Christianity Worth Believing In“. Here’s a short blurb from the book’s site:

In this engaging narrative, James Choung weaves a tale of a search for a Christianity worth believing in. Disillusioned believer Caleb and hostile skeptic Anna wrestle with the plausibility of the Christian story in a world of pain and suffering. They ask each other tough questions about what Jesus really came to do and what Christianity is supposed to be about. Along the way, they have some surprising realizations that real Christianity is far bigger than anything they ever heard in church. And the conversion that comes is not one that either of them expects.

What do you think about the way the video re-frames what most people have come to understand about God, Jesus and the Gospel (good news) message? My opinion (which if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you’ll know what I’m going to say) is that this is a MUCH needed change in the way we describe the message of the Bible and the point of following Jesus.

Sorry, but this blows the Four Spiritual Laws right out of the water…

(HT: The Suburban Christian)