Southern Sudan and independence

Sudan continues to be plagued with tragedy, and forgotten by the Western world. Recently I came across this news article from Ecumenical News International concerning former general secretary of the World Council of Churches, the Rev. Samuel Kobia. In the article he does not appear to support the movement of Southern Sudan towards independence, which I think is likely the best option for them, as the world seems to care less about their plight, and the oppressive Northern-based Sudan regime continues its persecution of Christians in the South. It looks like the proposed referendum is facing obstacles. It would be the most desired method of attaining independence, if it is not manipulated or rigged. However, if it fails, then the political leaders seem determined to declare independence without a referendum. The latter may not be the best option, however it may be the only viable option in the face of all the others. You can read the whole article here.

More than 1 billion hungry

More than 1 billion don’t have enough food to eat

According to a CBC news report: United Nations food agency says a record 1.02 billion people are hungry around the world, largely due to the global economic crisis and stubbornly high food prices. Read more about it here.

What can we do?

  • Give generously to benevolent NGOs like Canadian Lutheran World Relief,  who work on the front lines to improve the quality of life in the Two-Thirds World with community based projects.
  • Pray for “daily bread” for the now over 1 billion starving people in our world. (Note: In Lutheran tradition, following Martin Luther himself, daily bread is an all-inclusive phrase in the Lord’s Prayer, and refers to: food, clothing, shelter, health care, education, good government, and a peaceful, just society).
  • Work or volunteer for an NGO that compliments your faith and/or worldview.
  • Speak with your political representatives and encourage the government to increase their benevolent giving to the Two-Thirds nations without strings attached.
  • Make connections with people from the Two-Thirds World; learn from them, become a neighbour, befriend them.
  • I’m sure there are a host of other activities that you, kind reader, with all of your creativity, can add on to my brief list here, and pursue.

Mikhail Lennikov seeks sanctuary in First Lutheran Church

Mikhail Lennikov seeks sanctuary in First Lutheran Church

 Mikhail Lennikov, a former Russian KGB agent, seeks sanctuary in First Lutheran Church, Vancouver, B.C. The practice of sanctuary goes back at least to biblical times. Such a practice is certainly in line with the spirit of Jesus who loved and welcomed into his midst the outcasts of his day. Should sanctuary, under certain circumstances, take precedent over civil law? What are such circumstances? What do you think? Read and watch video here.

New Year thoughts in different directions

New Year thoughts in different directions

The arrival of another new year brings with it many open doors of opportunity. The old adage, when you’re so far down, there’s only one way to go, up, may well describe the present state of the world.

 

On the international scene, Christmas and New Year’s headlines focussed on the conflict in the Middle East, the breaking of the six month truce between Israel and Hamas, and the bombings of Hamas military targets by Israeli planes. The psalmist’s age old lament-question, “How long, O LORD,” is as applicable as ever. The issues, of course, are as old as the days of Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, Isaac and Ishmael. Questions, criticisms, and advice are legion—however, solutions are still as enigmatic as ever. Fundamentalist and evangelical preachers with all of their eschatological scenarios are a dime a dozen. A Bruce Cockburn line comes to mind: “Everyone wants justice done on somebody else.” Or maybe a little more hope in a Leonard Cohen line: “Ring the bells that still can ring forget your perfect offering there’s a crack in everything that’s how the light gets in.” Maybe we all need to pray for more cracks and ring more bells. What is the international community—including the so-called moderate Muslim nations—doing about the escalating anti-Semitic rhetoric and the Holocaust denial conference of Iran’s Prime Minister? Remember, the Nazi movement also started with rhetoric and escalated into anti-Semitic political policies, which in turn, resulted in the Holocaust. Why is the international community criticising Israel to no end, yet failing to act to declare suicide bombings a crime against humanity? Israel has a right to exist in peace with her neighbours. Do her neighbours accept or reject this right? My hope and prayer for 2009 is that the peace movement among Israelis and Palestinians shall flourish, and the press focus more on what they are doing to make a difference in everyday life for both peoples.

 

On the national scene, we had a bit of a political crisis, with the threat of a coalition between the NDPs and Liberals, and the BQ promising their support. Most Canadians may not have voted Prime Minister Harper into parliament—since the voter turnout was rather pathetic!—yet, I think the majority of Canadians would consider such a coalition with a separatist party holding the balance of power rather dangerous. I empathize with the Governor General; she had a difficult decision to make; however I think she made the best one, considering the alternatives. Our M.P.s in Ottawa from all parties need to stop playing destructive political partisan games and consider the overall well-being of the nation—that’s what Canadians gave them a mandate to do, to govern responsibly in a minority situation by working together regardless of their political ideologies. The growing—statistics may not support this—violence, or at the least media coverage, is a concern for every Canadian. What are the circumstances and other factors that draw people into gangs and drugs? Do we need to be more proactive? How can we as a society meet the needs of people in order that they would not turn to gangs, violence and drugs? We all need to struggle with questions like this and work together for a more peaceful society. Rather than signs of despair, these are doors of opportunities, for where there is life there is hope and vice versa. Happy New Year and God bless us one and all!