Sunday 27 August 2017

How to research your vote

With the New Zealand election less than a month away, here's some notes I put together for a new voter.  I'm putting it here mostly for my own records, but also in the hope someone else may find it useful :-)

Wednesday 23 August 2017

There are no good people

On Radio New Zealand National, Kim Hill recently interviewed Reni Eddo-Lodge about her 2014 blog post Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race and its aftermath.

Listening to her speak, Martin and I realised that Christianity has something really important to offer here.  Reni Eddo-Lodge is concerned with the way we white people simply do not notice our own racism.   One of the things that prevents us from doing so is that we are perpetually dividing the world into 'good people' and 'bad people'.  When it comes to race, racists are clearly the 'bad people'.  This means that, when a person of colour calls out racist attitudes in a white person, that white person isn't in a good place to hear that message as they're likely to assume they're a good person and hence know that they can't be a racist.

But one of the core tenants of Christianity is that none of us get to be the 'good people;.  I came across this again just today in my New Testament reading.  In Luke 11, Jesus is explaining to his disciples that they can confidently ask God for what they need.  To illustrate his point, he says:
Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish?  Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Did you see it?  Jesus takes for granted that his disciples are 'evil' and seems to assume that they will take this for granted as well.

Friday 11 August 2017

So many good things to look at right now!

I'm loving all the flowers I have in my room at the moment:

The cyclamen my friend Haley gave me a week or two back

Saturday 5 August 2017

Boldly asking God for my needs

At the moment our church is doing the New Zealand Bible Society's Six Month Bible Reading Challenge, reading through the New Testament section of the Bible over the course of six months.  At the moment I'm most of the way through Mark, the second book within the New Testament.

As I've been reading, I've been struck by how often Jesus seems to commend people for boldly asking them for what they need.  The first time I noticed it was this:
but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him [Jesus], and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”  Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
 Mark 7:25-30, NRSV

I'm familiar with this story but have always found it a bit distasteful, to be honest.  I don't like the way Jesus refuses to help the woman because of her ethnicity or that, in framing his refusal, he compares her to a dog.  Some people argue that Jesus only did that because he knew it would prompt her to answer in this way.  He pretended to hold the views common to those around him in order to allow the case to be made that his 'good news' wasn't just for the Jews but also for the Gentiles.  I haven't worked this properly through for myself, but I do hope they're right!

Regardless, what impressed me this time was what Jesus' response.  For saying that...  The great teacher has come, a 'nobody' woman has asked for his help and he's said no.  But the woman won't leave it at that and boldy pushes back against his 'no'.  For saying that, Jesus gives her what she wants.

That's just not how I've been taught to approach God.  I've been taught to ask for what I want, yes, but then to accept whatever answer he gives.  But here Jesus commends bold and shameless asking - asking that wouldn't accept a simple 'no'.