Friday, January 12, 2007

Urban Forum II - Shane Claiborne

Shane Claiborne, founder of The Simple Way and author of The Irresistible Revolution is here. His talks were more or less summaries of his writing, so I'll just share some of his writing. Hits me quite a bit when we brag so much about the largest charitable gift to a non-profit in history, largest social service project in Boston, etc.

Shane says this:

Layers of insulation separate the rich and the poor from truly encountering one another. There are the obvious ones like picket fences and SUVs, and there are the more subtle ones like charity. Tithes, tax-exempt donations, and short-term mission trips, while they accomplish some good, can also function as outlets that allow us to appease our consciences adn still retain a safe distance from the poor. Take this poignant example I stumbled across. Kathy Lee garments, which earn over $300 million in sals annually, are being produced by teenage girls in abysmal conditions in Honduran sweatshops. These girls as young as 13 work fifteen-hour hsifts under armed guards receiving 31 cents an hour to produce clothing sold under a label which promises that "a portion of proceeds from the sale of this garment will be donated to various Children's Charities."

Charity can be a dangerous insulator

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Urban Forum

A long awaited new look for the new year. And a commitment to process more of my life here than I have been lately. I miss the blogging community and the interaction we've shared here. I feel pretty disconnected and look forward to changing that.

I'm at the Urban Forum in Atlanta put on by the 614 Network. Ray Aldred spoke on Tuesday and I took down some of his thoughts. He is of Cree descent from Northern Alberta, Canada. He works with a group called "My People International" doing family ministry programs with in Canadian Aboriginal communities.

Here are some thoughts he gave:

When we reduce the gospel to anything less than the story that it is, we weaken it. The gospel story is the canon of scripture, the whole thing, the whole process--Old and New Testament.

I thought that the mission of God was something that you enacted on someone. In trying to convey the gospel to aboriginal people, we became utilitarian in our understanding of what it meant to be aboriginal. We had to ask ourselves: "Are we using feathers and drums only to draw an audience?" When we checked that understanding, we discovered that there was in indian life, an expression of the gospel. We discovered that if we tried only to express or convey the gospel to aboriginal people, we had failed. We had to find the gospel that was in aboriginal people.

If you are trying to express the gospel to poor people, you need to understand the gospel that is in poor people.

Anybody who does mission to any marginalized group has 2 roles to fulfill: to proclaim the incarnation to people and to proclaim the incarnation in people.
"Coming of Christ into the world describes how he loves all of creation. For God so loved the Cosmos that he sent his only son into the world."

"Canada and the United States have struggled to acknowledge the humanity of aboriginal people. You can't spread civilization unless there are people who are uncivilized. Aboriginal people did not appear as Westerners expected them to be or portrayed them, because they had some type of civilization. Because of this native people couldn't simply be killed. They had to be saved first than conquered."

"The desire of colonialism was to spread the sovreignty of their nation in a way that undermined God's sovreignty."

The Bible is holy and yet, the views held in the West have made this sacredness a way to keep the gospel from ordinary people.

If we do not love the one sitting before us, how can we say we love God? If we can not love the person who is very different from us, how can we say we love God?

The Church has gotten really good at being spiritual. Now we need to remember how to be human again.