Friday, August 31, 2007
I found out today that the first ever millionaire was in Britian and was one of the chief benefactors of the transatlantic slavetrade... as a matter of fact - England became the world's superpower on the backs of african slaves. It got me to thinking about the worlds current superpower - the states has more individual billionaires then ever before - Australia is also full of the 'mega-rich' who lead corporations that get rich on the backs of the worlds largest ever slave trade... then it was sugar and cotton... now it's coffee and chocolate and sex. It took a century for England to build the trade and less than 50 years for a few committed Christian abolitionists to dismantle it. Let's do it again.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
I'm a bit stirred up since last night.
I went with some friends to see the new australian movie THE JAMMED. It chronicles the stories of three trafficked survivors from Melbourne. It really highlights the injustice within the current law for trafficking survivors. Perhaps you don't know?
1. trafficked survivors found in Australia have to testify against their traffickers if they want ANY help from the government. If they don't testify they get deported immediately.
2. IF they do testify they have 30 days for the police to make an actual case... if they can't make a case the survivor is STILL deported.
3. Even if they can make a case - the survivor isn't assured permanent status...
The suffering these women have endured is unimaginable. I think we could do better.
What do you think of these ideas:
1. investigative teams that find out where they are being held and bust them out (the early army used to STORM BROTHELS - there would be about 75 soldiers and they'd bust in through the door go into the brothels and any women that wanted to come would be put in the centre of the salvationists and accompanied out - then disappear into a salvo home)... Let's bring back some muscular salvation?
2. An Underground railroad: yep, just like the days of slavery - we just absorb trafficked women into Christian community. Until the unjust laws are changed... we care for them/ we don't 'report' them until they can be guaranteed safety and provision.
People think these are unrealistic but I think they are a normal Christian response... it's not like they haven't been done before. I think often we hide behind risk management and professional social work instead of just doing what we can when we can... we are the Church - I think we can do more. I pray God will help me to know what I can do to fulfill Isa. 61 and bring His Kingdom to these women NOW as it is in heaven.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
so, back to back issues of Time Magazine featuring Princess Di and Mother Theresa.
It's been a decade since their death (they died the same day).
The coverage of the Princess suggests that her inclination to stand on the side of the oppressed and cross the barriers of royalty and propriety in favour of close proximity with the hurting launched the Royal family into relevance in British culture.
The brand new book of Mother Theresa's journals and letters reveal that her identification with the suffering of Christ included feeling alienated from God Himself. I had heard years ago that the day Mother Theresa started her work with the poor was the day the visions stopped. Her explanation was that God used to reveal Himself to her in visions but He started revealing Himself in the distressing disguise of the poor. For over forty years she dealt with the darkness of her soul by willful obedience to her last revelation. Wow.
There are many contrasts between them. But the thing that strikes me is that I'm much more like Princess Di then Mother Theresa. I'm fickle, tempermental, conditional, and vain. She was steady, true, unconditional and humble. I've got a long way to go. I also wondered at her long, persevering spirit of obedience... I'm praying for the gift... although perhaps it was more of a burden. In any case, I'd like to be more like the saint than the princess. God help me.
Friday, August 24, 2007
An investigation into modern slavery by the leading human rights authorities of our time in the context of the transatlantic slave trade.
Slavery is illegal in every country on our planet. Yet there are more slaves alive today than all the slaves stolen from Africa over four centuries of the slave trade.
Dealt a blow two hundred years ago, slavery has recovered well. Human trafficking thrives as it exploits asylum-seekers and feeds the booming sex industry and the constant demand for cheap labour.
So the fight for freedom continues. But we are half-way to winning by being aware. This book will help all those who want to pray, lobby, or act with intelligence and effectiveness.
Reviewed by Major David Dalziel
writing in Salvationist, the weekly magazine of The Salvation Army
"...this powerful volume, put together to mark the 200th anniversary of William Wilberforce's victory over the slave traders in this country, provides some ideas of how individuals today can help. ...It shows how slave conditions can be changed and whole communities transformed by careful, local action, by training and educating..."
David Alton - Kevin Bales - Kate Blewett - Steve Chalke - Caroline Cox - Shay Cullen - Joseph D'Souza - Joel Edwards - Mike Kaye - Michele Lombardo - Anita Roddick - Benedict Rogers - Tony Warner - Brian Woods
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
you must check out this site:
I watched a movie clip about cocoa farm slaves this last week-end. Killed me.
I'm struck by the fact that our 'pleasures' (coffee, chocolate, sex) are what enslaves thousands of people. It's not that we 'need' these things. But even after telling a group of girls, one of them said, 'I couldn't live without my chocolate!'. Now, I understand that they just don't get the reality of the situation - but still - I think the progression of oppression (yes, that's what I said) is such that we are the enslaved as well. We are enslaved to our own greed, lust and pleasures - and it's killing us (obesity) and it's killing them (slavery). Let's get free.
I had this idea: JustLose - you get in a team of 10 people. Every team pays $1000 to participate. Then we compete to see who can lose the most for justice. We give the money to a trafficking project in the developing world. What do you think?
It will help us (with obesity) and them (with slavery).
It's a justice focused weight loss program... bringing us together for health - but not just a self-focused attempt - but a community committed to being better global brothers and sisters...
I think it's worth losing.
Friday, August 17, 2007
I am in Sydney at Unlimited... pondering the deep realities of Eternity In Him.
Jesus is amazing. And I'm struck again by the reality that He is more than enough - He is sufficient in every way. I've realized that we spend much of our lives looking down and not much looking up... those of us who are 'practically minded' can even under-rate the 'super spiritual' among us... but, I'm convinced it's not an either or situation... we need both.
We fix our eyes on Jesus - to eternity and then we walk out His Kingdom - NOW, on earth as it is in heaven.
Without giving too much away on tonights main speak I'll give you two things:
1. Gunilla Eckberg (look her up) a Swedish force for the rights of women... says to change any society you need to first have a vision for the change... HELLO - eternity!
2. C.S. Lewis "If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this."
So, we are well positioned to change the world... how's your vision?
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Monday, August 13, 2007
So I had a sore throat Wednesday night last week and thought I'd just 'suck it up' and bear it... went homeless on Thursday night - good times. Then on Friday I couldn't talk. Really. Totally lost my voice. It was a real pain on many levels - firstly, I had an important visitor that I longed to talk with freely - and although I pressed through it was very difficult to talk... then, I was supposed to speak all day (teaching at a corps) on Sunday and had to get some others to fill in because I honestly couldn't speak... it was nuts. But then I started thinking about it today and considered the pain of being voiceless. Then I started to think about the homeless. I realized that a big part of the pain of homelessness isn't just the isolation and reality of being homeless but the alienation from society itself - it's the 'voiceless' reality of your situation - you really have no one to tell. No one is listening.
We were able to talk freely with a guy who lived in his car for the last year... it was a great interview... he was articulate, smart, funny and very charismatic. I liked him and really enjoyed giving him an opportunity to speak for himself. I want his voice to count. From now on, I don't want to talk just because I can - I want to speak for those who have no voice... I want to use my voice well for those who have no voice. How 'bout you?
Thursday, August 9, 2007
So, way back when I was taking a course on theology we were discussion the implications of the greatest commandment lived out... and one of our classmates came up with a diagram that made love expressed vertically as holiness and horizontally as justice... it was an interesting thought - same source LOVE in and out. 2love might be on to something (http://2love.salvationarmy.org.au)... and the other day I blogged about two completely different churches - and someone commented about their desire to see them put together... the passion and purity of a hot holiness expressed outward through compassionate, thoughtful social justice - sounds to me like the makings of an early movement called The Salvation Army. The dangers in both areas are holiness becoming religius piety and justice becoming crusty and hard. Both need the true source of love as their blood or they dry up. Which love do you lack at the moment... I say UP and OUT with abundance... come on church - wake up.
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
This is a great initiative by the International Salvation Army - let's get creative on how this day could help highlight the desperate need we have for peace in our world... ideas welcome.
Speaking about peace there has been a great conversation going on in the comment section of the Hokey Pokey blogpost: it's such great quality that I think it deserves a wider readership so here is a segment from Aaron White offering some deep and wide thoughts on non-violence. The debate was on whether there is such a thing as a 'just war' and Aaron tells us why he doesn't think so:
"It is better to fight than do nothing. But is there not anything better than fighting? A third way where you still engage but don't kill? Are there never any other options?
When Gandhi was asked about World War Two, and whether his soul force non-violence would have worked there, he basically said he didn't know. But he also said that nobody knew if violence was going to work either, but the whole world put it's resoures and muscle behind it. So he suggested that if non-violent actions were to be used against Nazi Germany, the same amount of resolve, resources, money and dedication would have been required.
People often don't think this out. The alternative to killing in the name of justice and peace isn't sitting on our butts and lecturing our soldiers about peace. That is a straw man. Gandhi showed an alternative that actually worked. People died, to be sure, but one can assume the deaths were way less than if a violent revolution had occurred. The Solidarity movement in Poland showed an alternative. South Africa demonstrated something radically different. There are options, many hige changes have happened, especially recently, throuh non-violent means, but violent force always seems to be the default.
But with violent force good is always destroyed with the bad (seems like something I read from the Bible). It is a very good thing that Hitler was defeated. It is a very bad thing that this war sparked the Cold War and the age of nuclear holocaust. Violence begets violence. Again, better to have fought him than to do nothing, but what may have resulted from world-wide non-violent action? We'll never know now, but the only way off the treadmill of violence is to try. Remember that WW2 was a direct result of WW1 and the inhumane treatment of the Germans afterwards.
When we use violent means to achieve even noble ends, we reinforce the dictum that might = right. And so we lose any moral authority to say stop fighting. The Romans were able to enforce Pax Romana because they were strong enough to kill anyone or any group that started wars. God is stronger than the Roman army, but he sent Jesus, not to kill, but to die. I think there may be something instructive there.
It is interesting how Jesus' teaching on non-violence is considered adequate for personal use, but as soon as you try to apply it to world situations the teaching is considered naive, or even traitorous."
Sunday, August 5, 2007
I was blessed to go to two different churches today. And you really couldn't find two more different. It started in the morning at St. Martins a local, non-denominational gathering of believers in Collingwood (where we are aiming to open fire soon). It was full of honest reflection, social justice, prayer, interaction and hospitality - a challenging message on personal holiness but a laid back, down to earth, reality about it. Gritty and great.
Later on we checked out planetshakers. A full-blown, in your face, pente-style, worship crazed crowd of believers. Full of Jesus freaks, worship, intimacy, and hospitality. It was God-charged and lovely.
The thing is - I loved them both. Not just the style (although both were refreshing and engaging in their own way) but I loved the people. I love the diversity of the church. I love that each church has a flavour and colour and adds a element of uniqueness to the whole body. Richard Foster has a great book (for further reading) called Living Streams and Rob Bell hosted a conference about the church called, 'Isn't She Beautiful?' and I agree with both of them. She is. She really is - and to think I've only seen glimpses of her.. never in her fullness, and I'm already in love. No wonder Jesus is jealous.
Those who think the church's days are numbered are missing the display. I pray God will give you eyes to see the colour, size, wonder and beauty of the church. And I also pray that God will continue the process of preparing His bride... I want to be ready.
Thursday, August 2, 2007
I've heard about the chocolate issues but have lacked concrete info to really watch my consumer habits... here's some I found that might help...
An award-winning filmmaker/photographer, sponsored by the Washington, DC-based International Labor Rights Fund (ILRF), has just returned from West Africa after conducting filmed interviews with six young men currently living in Mali who are plaintiffs in a suit in US Court in Los Angeles. The men are former child slaves who had been trafficked as 14/-15 year-olds to Ivory Coast and forced to work on cocoa plantations.
The photographer also interviewed and took pictures of children currently working on cocoa plantations in Ivory Coast.
KNOW WHAT CHOCOLATE YOU ARE EATING, KNOW WHAT IT SUPPORTS:
One-third of Nestle's chocolate is from West Africa, where over 286,000 children have been reported working in slave conditions on cocoa (chocolate) farms. Nestle promotes genetically engineered foods while claiming "the Fair Trade approach is not a solution." learn more
Nestlé is the largest food manufacturer and chocolate company in the world with over $65 billion in annual sales. Fair Trade Certification, which guarantees a modest minimum price of $.80 per pound, would establish a "floor" or minimum price that Nestlé could easily afford to pay, thus providing a fair price to small farmers, a subsistence wage for cocoa plantation workers, and an end to the practice of child slavery.
Dole is the largest cut-flower producer in the world, the majority of which is imported from Columbia and Ecuador where low paid farmworkers are exposed to 127 different chemicals, including neurotoxins and carcinogens. Studies show 60% of these long-term workers have signs of early cancer.
David H. Murdock, Dole's CEO, is ranked by Forbes as one of the wealthiest men in the world. If you took the amount Dole pays all of its thousands of international floral farm workers, per year, and multiplied it times 100 years, you'd still have less than the amount that Mr. Murdock is "worth" (over $2 billion), yet he refuses to have the company invest in paying its farmers liveable wages.
Dole is also responsible for union busting in Columbia (firing union supporters).
Wal-Mart is the largest retailer of cut-flowers in the United States, the majority of which come from Dole. Wal-Mart is also one of the largest retailers of Valentine's chocolate candies, mainly sourced from Nestle, Mars, and Hershey.
Wal-Mart's 1,713 stores do not sell or support Fair Trade or organic chocolates or flowers.
While Wal-Mart, the world's largest corporation, rakes in over $250 billion in sales each year, the average pay for a Wal-Mart sales associate is $1,000 below the poverty line for a family of three, and the company is now well known for outsourcing its production to sweat shops.
M&Ms/Mars Inc. has been accused of buying from contractors who utilize child labor and child slavery on cocoa farms on the Ivory Coast.
M&M/Mars Inc. is the third wealthiest private company in the United States. The three private owners of the company are each "worth" $10.4 billion, while the West African farmers actually growing the cocoa for M&Ms chocolate make a baseline income of only $108 annually. M&M/Mars Inc. continues to report record profits while flat out refusing to consider Fair Trade.
West African Cocoa Farming
* Estimated number of cocoa farms in West Africa:
1.2 - 1.5 Million
* Average size of cocoa farms in West Africa:
* Average number of family members who live on a cocoa farm:
* Number of people in West Africa who live on cocoa farms:
* Amount of cocoa produced worldwide each year:
3 Million Tons
* Percentage of world cocoa supply that comes from West Africa: