2 Corinthians 8: 7-15

For many months now, the media has been saturated with stories about the economic crisis in Europe; and in particular, the fate of countries such as Greece and Spain, which are facing the real prospect of national bankruptcy.   Comment and debate has raged back and forth between proponents of what are called “austerity measures” – that is, eradicating government debt by reducing pensions, cutting public services, and shedding public sector jobs – and those who argue that such measures punish the victims, not the perpetrators of the current crisis, which can only be resolved through tighter regulation of the financial markets, making rich individuals and big corporations pay more tax, and financial packages that stimulate economic activity. Continue reading “2 Corinthians 8: 7-15”

1 Samuel 17: 1-51

It was a David and Goliath struggle.

How often have you heard that – or a phrase like it – especially with respect to a sporting contest?  As a saying, we use it to symbolise any struggle in which one party, apparently overmatched by the other, achieves an unexpected victory against the odds.  We use it to symbolise the triumph of the underdog over adversity.  We use it to speak of anyone who succeeds when conventional wisdom tells us that the odds are too long, or the obstacles too tough. Continue reading “1 Samuel 17: 1-51”

1 Samuel 16:1 – 13

But I that am not shaped for sportive tricks
Nor made to court an amorous looking glass;
I, that am rudely stamp’d, and want love’s majesty
To strut before some wanton ambling nymph;
I, that am curtail’d of this fair proportion,
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
Deformed, unfinished, sent before my time
Into this breathing world scarce half made up,
And that so lamely and unfashionable
That dogs bark at me as I halt by them;
Why I, in this weak, piping time of peace,
Have no delight to pass away the time,
Unless to spy my shadow in the sun
And descant on mine own deformity.

These are the words which William Shakespeare puts into the mouth of Richard III in his play about that infamous king. Shakespeare uses these words to explain why Richard does what he does during the course of the play: that, having been a skilled and courageous general whose battlefield victories have helped put his brother on the English throne, Richard is now bitter because, in peacetime, people see not the brilliant general but the deformed hunchback; those who once rallied to him now shun him because of his physical appearance.  Accordingly, Richard determines to set about undermining those he has helped raise up; and the rest of the play is concerned with the consequences arising from that decision. Continue reading “1 Samuel 16:1 – 13”

The Language of Subversion: Class Warfare and the Politics of Envy in 21st Century Australia

PRESCRIPT: Like many other congregations, Mountview Uniting Church, the congregation in which I am currently in placement as the Minister, has its own house journal, a bi-monthly publication called Contact.  Naturally, as the Minister, I am asked to contribute a column with each edition.  Normally, such a column only occupies a page or so; but with the latest edition, I was addressing an issue which I felt required a much longer exposition.  Now that the current edition of Contact has been published, I would like to share this column with a wider audience.

“…when the Church takes itself seriously as an alternative culture, baptism is politically charged. When we recognize that “the people of God do not go to church; they are the church,” baptism can…accurately be seen as an act of civil disobedience.”

Rodney Clapp,
A Peculiar People: The Church as Culture
In a Post-Christian Society, p.101-2

 

In Australia, we pride ourselves on our “egalitarianism” and the fact that we are a “classless” society not bound by some of the more oppressive historical manifestations of privilege.  But a couple of articles I have read in recent times suggest that this “national myth” is no longer a narrative that sustains our sense of self-identity as Australians; rather, it has become part of the web of complacency and apathy that blinds us to the increasing inequality within society – indeed, which co-opts us and makes us complicit in economic and social injustice. Continue reading “The Language of Subversion: Class Warfare and the Politics of Envy in 21st Century Australia”

Trinity Sunday – A Reflection

Most of us have no doubt heard, at one time or another, the quaint story recalling how St Patrick converted the Irish to Christianity.  According to this story, Patrick was trying to persuade the Irish High King to adopt the Christian faith, when the King asked him how it was possible that the Christian God could be three Persons in one Being; surely that was a nonsense.  Feeling rather deflated, Patrick lowered his eyes; and there, on the ground at his feet, he saw the now-famous three-leafed Irish clover.  Plucking off a stem, he showed it to the King, explaining that just as the three leaves made up one whole clover, so the three Persons of the Trinity made up the unity of God.  The King was said to be so impressed that he allowed Patrick and his monks to continue their mission, and eventually himself became a Christian. Continue reading “Trinity Sunday – A Reflection”