Category Archives: Various

Faith and Politics – some historical thoughts

jim-macaloonJim McAloon’s Presentation at the Napier Conference – for those of you who were not there, and for those who were 🙂

I want to explore in this talk some of the histories of faith-based political engagement in Aotearoa New Zealand. If my emphasis is on the political sphere and public questions, that is partly reflecting my particular interests and partly because I think it is important for people of progressive faith to know our past.

Why do I say that? Because I think that one unfortunate consequence of the increased strength of conservative forces in many of the Christian churches in the last 30 or so years has been a weakening of the faith-based element in movements for social change, and an almost default setting in the popular media that Christian commitment implies social conservatism (a default setting that many of the leaders of what used to be called mainline denominations encourage, wittingly or otherwise). Continue reading Faith and Politics – some historical thoughts

Art as Radical Change Agent

– Can Humans change our story?

 Jo Randerson spoke at our recent conference in Napier, here is a summary of her presentation.

It was wonderful to be at the conference with you this month.  A short point summary of my talk:

  • I grew up in a church environment where different views were encouraged and listened to
  • We (Barbarian Productions) try to make art which brings different views/people into contact with each other
  • Arts rather than being an extra decorative measure can be a critical tool to achieve social justice where large institutions fail
  • Collaboration is key with any others who share similar goals

Continue reading Art as Radical Change Agent

Light in the Midst of Darkness

Fred Plumer reflects on Christmas on 22 December 2014

For decades, I felt compelled to explain that December 25 was really not the date Jesus was born. I suspect I have ruined Christmas mornings for more than one parishioner. But I thought it was important… Over the last few years, I have begun to think that celebrating Jesus’ birthday on the same holiday of Sol Invictus or the Winter Solstice was actually a good idea and in some ways appropriate…

Jesus entered the world in a dark time in human history, particularly for his own people, the Jews…  few of us can even begin to grasp how hopeless and dark the world must have seemed to those oppressed people…

It was into this great darkness that Yeshua entered the world. In spite of his humble beginning, somewhere along the way he managed to bring a new light, a new perspective to many of his followers…

Continue reading Light in the Midst of Darkness

“truths that remain unknowable” – Elizabeth Dewberry

So I sit once again on the steps
outside St Louis Cathedral
and wait here, quietly, for daylight.

When it comes, I will go into the Cathedral,
into the presence of God, or of Mystery,
and a man who believes what he’s saying
will tell me what he knows of truth.

Then he will lay his hand on my forehead
and leave a tiny smudge of ashes in the center of it,
a reminder of those truths in this life that remain unknowable,

and I will open myself to mysteries greater than death
and to the possibility of believing in them again.

– Elizabeth Dewberry

Sacrament of Lies (New York: BlueHen Putnam, 2002)

beyond “our savior” – extract from a blog on “Ponderings” website

Yesterday I drove past a neighborhood church sporting the sign, “Jesus paid the price… you can keep the change.” Disconcerting  was the dissonance between the progressive denomination (United Church of Christ) and the regressive theology invoked (sacrificial atonement). Having walked away from my life in ministry just weeks earlier, I am loathe to jump into a theological conversation and I initially pass on the bait. ”To each their own,” I reply when asked to comment.

Later in the day I received an email from a former colleague, expressing his concern with theological integrity and requesting conversation. Like me, he explains, he believes Jesus about God but does not believe the church about Jesus. With this truth, he asks, how can we stand before congregations uncritically parroting phrases that infer sacrificial atonement? What, he wonders, is the price for claiming that Jesus already paid it?

Before I reply to the theological question, I must confess a personal investment.

Continue reading beyond “our savior” – extract from a blog on “Ponderings” website