Tuesday 23 April 2013

Jubilee Dreaming: The persistence of racial injustice?

Post Written by Rev Ben Gooley

2013 marks the 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s immortal “I Have a Dream” speech (text/audio). He spoke one hundred years after America’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, lamenting that a century on, “the Negro still is not free”.

Fifty years is a long time for an individual, even if it’s not necessarily so long for a society. As an “under 50”, I find it hard to fathom that as Luther King wrote and spoke, those of colour and those who were white were in many places segregated, separated and estranged for no other reason than this mere racial divide.

I speak as an Australian, whose nation’s history of racial injustice is different from that of America. We do not have the same history of slavery, yet our cultural baggage as a nation is in many ways no less stark. I find it hard to fathom that indigenous Australians only received the vote in Federal Elections in 1962. Yet fifty-one years on, racial inequalities persist in our nation and some appear to be worsening. Government and NGO programs for social justice such as Close the Gap are seeking to understand, address and reverse the significant inequalities that continue to plague our nation.

A key element of the gospel perspective on races and nationalism is given voice in Paul’s letter to the Galatians. This letter is in large part concerned with the question of how the racial divide between Jews and Gentiles is recast by the gospel framework. In the letter, Paul famously exclaims that in Christ Jesus there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, male nor female, for all are one body (Gal 3:28). Paul’s concern was largely theological, as he tackled the legalistic shackles of the circumcision group. Yet that does not lessen the reality of the breaking down of the racial dividing wall. He concludes towards the end of the letter:

“Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Gal 6:9-10)

In biblical symbolism, fifty years is an important period. The Year of Jubilee described in Leviticus 25:10 describes the fiftieth year as a time when property sold through poverty and indentured slaves are returned to their original owners and their families. Fifty years on from Martin Luther King’s Dreaming is an excellent opportunity to reflect on the significant progress that has been wrought, and the significant problems hurdles which remain.

Monday 15 April 2013

Rethinking Relationships & Apologetics

Its not everyday you see Christianity written about in the economics section of the Sydney Morning Herald, let alone by the economics senior columnist. However Easter Monday saw the publishing of a very thought provoking column by Ross Gittins entitled 'Time ripe to re-think 'relationships'

He suggests:

Since "...many business people and economists think of themselves as Christians... what implications does this carry for the way they view the world and conduct their affairs?"

This is a question that should indeed not be asked just by business and economists alone! The article struck me for several reasons, first it has succinct analysis of what is at the heart of one's Christian faith. Second, it asks what implications faith has for a believer in terms of our dealings with those around us. This is one aspect of the apologetic life. With this in mind it is no wonder I took notice.  Apologetic people have been the focus of my last two posts in particular (March 13 and Feb 22).

The column however has a broader focus, and goes much further than a discussion of economics. Gittens continues:

"Education's goal can be defined as acquisition of wisdom for children to be able to serve their family and community, rather than acquisition of technical skills merely for personal career advantage. At a personal level, our happiness and wellbeing are determined primarily by the quality of our relationships".

His comments echo some of the content of Case 14 'Seeking Happiness' which had some great articles that address the questions how and why we seek happiness. In the same issue we actually reviewed a book written by Ross Gittins  'Gittinnomics' that considers the impact of heightened materialism on society.

I think many readers of the blog would enjoy the SMH article (here) and reviewing Case 14 magazine 'Seeking Happiness'. The book review from this edition can be read here. Alternatively you can purchase past editions of Case here

Send CASE an email