Random thoughts on Pentecost, the Holy Spirit, and 25 years after Tiananmen Square

Remembering Tiananmen Square 25 years ago

Remembering Tiananmen Square 25 years ago

This week the world—except, ironically the official government and military of China—remembers the 25 year anniversary of the tragedy that was Tiananmen Square. I can still recall in my mind’s eye the tanks rolling into TS and that infamous televised news report of one brave pro-democracy demonstrator challenging the aggressive tank. Of course, we all know who won in that encounter. The Chinese government and military managed to successfully and cruelly kill or arrest and imprison many of the peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators; disperse the masses; and forbid any further gatherings to advocate for democracy on Tiananmen Square.

So here we are, 25 years later, and the more things change, the more they stay the same—especially for all peace-loving, pro-democracy Chinese citizens. The family members who lost loved ones during the pro-democracy demonstrations are unable to properly remember and mourn their dead in public. Moreover the Chinese authorities have placed gagging orders on them and censored the media as well—continuing their policy to forget that the pro-democracy demonstrations on TS even happened, and hoping that all Chinese citizens will do the same.

At precisely this juncture in the history of China the Holy Spirit enters the scene. The Holy Spirit is working and alive in the life of the church in China, with millions of members. Moreover, I believe it is the workings of the Holy Spirit who is spurring the ordinary citizens of China to be so bold as to advocate for those who lost their lives at TS or who have been locked up in prisons ever since they were arrested 25 years ago. The Holy Spirit is also at work helping these folks to remember and mourn those who died—witness the over one-hundred thousand strong vigil in Hong Kong. As much as the Chinese authorities would like to forget and tell lies about the tragedy of TS 25 years ago, the Holy Spirit is working in the lives of the people to keep the truth alive and to continue to instill in the Chinese people hopes and dreams for a better, more democratic society in the future.

Many of the Western democratic nations adopted a “free trade” policy with China with the hopes that it would lead to a liberalizing of human rights and freedoms. However today that policy does not seem to be working. The old guard and the old pro-communist ways of suppressing democracy remain as much intact today as they did 25 years ago. The West also seems to continue to be too soft and mum regarding the violation of human rights in China.

Perhaps as we celebrate Pentecost this year in the free world, we can remember China in our prayers; that the wind and fire and rivers of living water, i.e. the Holy Spirit, would act in powerful ways to bring about the changes leading China into a freer, more democratic society.

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Nelson Mandela: A brief tribute

Receiving Doctor of Laws Degree at Ryerson University, Toronto

Receiving Doctor of Laws Degree at Ryerson University, Toronto

Yesterday, December 5, 2013, Nelson Mandela died at the ripe old age of 95 years. What an incredible life he lived! He started out in a rural area of South Africa as a humble animal herder. He then moved to one of the nation’s urban centres to eventually become a lawyer and begin his long fight for freedom and democracy against the South African Apartheid regime. His fight for freedom and democracy landed him in jail for 27 years. His time in prison however gave him an opportunity to grow richer and stronger in character as a human being. After his release from prison in 1990, he continued his long struggle as South Africa’s most gifted and inspirational political leaders, and eventually was elected as the nation’s first black President in 1994. A year earlier, he and President deKlerk were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

 

Mandela has been described, among other things as: The African Lincoln, noble yet humble, Father of the nation [i.e. South Africa and/or of the whole continent], prophet, brilliant leader, courageous peacemaker, and so forth. We Canadians awarded Mandela an honourary citizenship and made him a member of the Order of Canada, we also named a school after him. Of course, in many respects Mandela was also not only a citizen of his own nation, but a citizen of every nation-especially regarded as such, I think, because of his political wisdom and compassion for humankind.

 

Without question, he was an inspirational exemplar and hero of the black citizens of his nation, and of blacks in general in all of Africa and around the globe. Yet, he had feet of clay like the rest of us, and he at times was the first to admit it. He had, in his earlier years, intimidated and bullied an East Indian leader, removing him off the stage at a public gathering. In humility that bespeaks repentance, he admitted on one occasion publicly that he had failed as, and had been a poor husband to his first wife. He also publicly spoke words of compassion rather than condemnation regarding his second wife, when he was asked about an alleged adulterous relationship with another man.

 

Yet his charisma and sense of doing the right thing at the right time in a symbolic way, earned him the respect of even his worst enemies-including P.W. Botha’s wife, whom he visited shortly after her husband’s death.

 

I think the most significant thing we as Christians can learn from the life of Nelson Mandela is his brilliant capacity to forgive and work for reconciliation with his enemies. In this regard, he was extremely successful, and deserved winning the Nobel Peace Prize. South Africa could have devolved into a brutal civil war, however against all the odds, Mandela’s brilliant leadership led the nation into a state of forgiveness, peace, justice and reconciliation. In this way, most likely he was influenced by such non-violent peacemakers as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Mohandas K. Gandhi, [and, most of all, I would like to think, Jesus himself our Saviour and Messiah].

 

May this legacy of Nelson Mandela live on in the history of South Africa, as well as the history of humankind! In closing, I would like to let Nelson Mandela speak for himself, I believe the following quotation epitomises the man and his life: “I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” REST ETERNAL GRANT NELSON MANDELA, O LORD; AND LET LIGHT PERPETUAL SHINE UPON HIM.

 

Daily Prompt at The Daily Post @ WordPress.com

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/02/02/daily-prompt-global/

 

“Think global, act local.” Write a post connecting a global issue to a personal one.

One could write a lot on this theme, however I believe it begins with the love of God towards us and all of creation. God loves us more than we are able to comprehend and God loves creation, delighting in its beauty, complexity and diversity.

   Since we are created in God’s image; since God is love; since we have been loved and are loved by God; we can respond by also loving God, one another and caring for the whole creation. One of the most important ways we do this is by living peaceful lives.

   The book of Isaiah gives us a beautiful vision of perfect shalom-peace; of a world where weapons of war are turned into tools for peace—spears into pruning hooks and swords into ploughshares; a world where we shall no longer know—or engage in acts of—war anymore; a world where even natural predator instincts will not exist and enemies will live in peace and love together. Jesus epitomised this vision while dying on the cross and praying for his enemies: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

   When we live with the vision of shalom-peace, then we endeavour to: love God and our neighbour and yes, even our enemies, solve conflicts through respect and honest dialogue, be responsible stewards of creation by reducing our carbon footprint, planting more trees and gardens, supporting local-grown economies rather than exploiting cheap labour with appalling working conditions in the two-thirds world, slowing down to smell the flowers rather than living in the fast lane, caring for, respecting and protecting the most vulnerable in our midst including the elderly, differently-abled and children, working to support freedom, democracy, education, healthcare, along with the basic needs of food, clothing and shelter and meaningful work for everyone in the world. A tall, perhaps naïve, and impossible order, yes, and for human beings alone impossible, however with God’s help and activity, all things are possible.

The depraved United Nations

On September 20, the vast majority of the 192 member countries of the United Nations will probably “recognize” a Palestinian state.

The “recognition” will not be accompanied with caveats about dismantling PA terrorist organizations such as Al- Aksa Martyrs Brigades or ending the incitement to hatred and murder of Jews and Israelis that pervades all levels of Palestinian society. There will be no requirements for demilitarization. Nor will negotiations by the PA to unite with the genocidal Hamas be curtailed. The Palestinians will not be obliged to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and will continue demanding the Arab right of return to it.

Renewal of negotiations with Israel are unlikely because the Palestinians realize that their goals can be more effectively achieved by leveraging international pressure on us to make further unilateral concessions – and dismantle us in stages.

This event will be followed by Durban III, a UN endorsed hate fest designed to delegitimize and demonize the Jewish state. The principal participant will be Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who recently predicted that the UN recognition of Palestinian statehood would represent the first step toward the inevitable elimination of the Jewish state. Like the preceding meetings in 2001 and 2009, this purportedly “anti-racist conference” will overwhelmingly concentrate on spewing venom against Israel.

The founders of the United Nations, who after the defeat of Nazism endorsed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, could never have visualized that the organization they created would become controlled by dictatorships and tyrannies and transformed into a platform for promoting genocide.

You can read the whole article here.

The Church and the federal election

The Church and the federal election

One of the quintessential questions for some Christians over the centuries has been: What is the relationship between the church and the state; faith and politics? The question remains, for some, as contemporary and relevant as it is ancient and historical. The wide variety of Christian denominations have different “takes” in answering such questions. One thing is clear, there is no avoiding politics—those who claim neutrality are also making a political statement, there is no room for quietism and indifference (I still have not, received any comments or correspondence from the Church of Sweden on my last post and wonder what their lack of response means concerning the issue that I raised). Although I believe it wrongheaded for the Church to endorse any political party—indeed such endorsement can lead to tyranny and oppression, as the dark pages of church history have hopefully taught us—nonetheless, as citizens in the world, it is our right and responsibility, our duty and privilege to be involved in politics as stewards of creation and servants of justice and peace in the world. In our democratic society, we do this by showing up at the polling stations and voting.

So, dear readers, are you intending to vote in the upcoming federal election? If so, what are do you think are the most pressing issues in this election? What do you think of the 2011 ELCIC Compassionate Justice Election Resource? Click here.

What do you think of the KAIROS federal election kit focussing on the three topics of climate change, indigenous rights, and migrant justice? Click here

Do you think these resources are helpful for church folk in educating them on the most pressing election issues? Did reading these resources help you or change your views on certain issues? Are you going to vote in the 2011 federal election? If not, can you explain why you are not voting? I’d love to hear from you.

Bruce Cockburn prophet of our time

I’ve always appreciated the music of Canadian singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn. His lyrics remind me of the classic Hebrew Bible prophets, full of passion for justice, spoken (in Bruce’s case, sung) with deep love and care. Many of his songs are laments like the prophetic oracles of Jeremiah or Amos and others. In this video [scroll down to play it] Bruce sings one of his quintessential laments on behalf of the two-thirds world, “Call It Democracy.”

Aung San Suu Kyi sentenced again

Aung San Suu Kyi sentenced again

The Burma Nobel Prize Winner and human rights activist, Aung San Suu Kyi (pronounced Chi) has been sentenced once again to another 18 months of house arrest. She has spent 14 of the last 20 years in Burma either in prison or under house arrest, even though she won a democratically held election back in the 90s. Over against the hue and cry of world opinion, the Burma military state refuses to unconditionally release her, when there were no legitimate grounds for arresting her in the first place. Yet, she is gifted and graced with an indomitable spirit, passionately striving for justice and peace, and democracy in her native land. U2 recently paid her tribute in this YouTube video, which really rocks, check it out here. Amnesty International honoured Aung San Suu Kyi this year with the Ambassador of Conscience award. Readers can call for her release by signing AI’s petition here. Thank you! May God grant Aung San Suu Kyi her long awaited freedom and may God bless all of her endeavours to continue the righteous quest for peace, justice and democracy in Burma.