Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ever heard of Putaruru?

We have failed to heed God’s message – God’s fault or ours?

The world is in financial and economic crises – sounds sterile. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world are losing their jobs, they and in many cases, their families will suffer real hardship.

Some atheists may ask why God let the evil bankers trick us into spending money we did not have on what we did not need just so that they could get rich.

I may respond and ask why we did not listen to the many voices, Christian and others, which warned that it would not end well? … and perhaps I would admit the voices of churches were not raised very loudly (or did the media stifle them?) to call us to think about increasing number being plunged into abject poverty as we plugged in our flat screen TVs. … yea blame the messenger for not making us listen to God’s word.

Perhaps we all have to concede that the most strident voices calling us to ‘love our neighbour as ourselves’ were those of the fundamentalists – the loony fringe (?) – oh but had we all heeded their cry! Had we been more like Nineveh – certainly we received the same message – and less like Sodom, well who knows …

It is easy to say that Christ preached against the avarice practised by the merchant bankers and others who sowed the seeds of this crisis; it is also easy to say that if we had all followed Christ’s teachings we not be in this sorry state.

Correct me if I am wrong – if we had not been distracted by the new and shiny would we not have been better off living a good Christian or Hindu lifestyle, respecting those around us, even the starving in Darfur? But all of us (me included) did not do that, so …… and the starving still starve and the number of the poor increases.

Do I seem heartless? No, I weep for those who really do and will suffer, I feel nothing but disdain for those who rode the pig’s back and now have to make do on a few million less next year, yet how clear is the sound of their weeping, and so loud that governments around the world have come to THEIR aid – I guess those that really need the aid (like wiping 3rd world debt) have to again rely on the trickle down effect – like Lazarus at the gate of the rich man’s house. Certainly the situation is the fruit of avaricious. Certainly lax regulation opened the gate – blah blah … etc I could rant on, but you know it anyway.

Out of the gloom comes a story of real Christian spirit. In the small New Zealand town of Putaruru the sawmill is to close and around 200 jobs are to be lost. Bad news in a small town with a population around 3500. However, in the neighbouring town of Tokoroa (pop 4000) the workers at the mill there have agreed to restructure their shifts and reduce their hours and take home pay to create about enough new jobs for those laid off in nearby (25kms away) Putaruru.

Now those taking the pay cut are not the management of the corporate parent on $mega packages with bonuses that motivate the cutting of jobs at the first sign of missing their double digit targets. Those taking the 12.5% cut in work hours are giving up their pay at overtime rates, so more than 12.5% of take home, are those who can least afford it, earning generally at or below the average wage.

Is this proof of God, of course not, but it is the message of Christ, “love your neighbour as yourself” at work. Are all those who are making the sacrifice Christians – I doubt it, even with Google Earth showing 7 churches in the Tokoroa & 6 in Putaruru (1 per 600 people). Christ’s teaching is God’s message to all – and is particularly relevant now. Those who will now have jobs for the new year have those jobs because good has triumphed over evil, love over selfishness – these are the fruits of God’s spirit at work within the spirits of the good people of Tokoroa, Putaruru and around the world.

If you pray (or for atheists is it, wish or hope – or does life just happen for you?) for anything next year, perhaps you will join me in wanting more openness in the world to the spirit that moved the workers in Tokaroa.

Now I know most of my visitors are atheists (interesting how visitor numbers soar (& lots more repeat visitors - feel free to comment folks) when I get active on the DC site) so I mean no disrespect to your beliefs but see wishing you and those dear to you a blessed Christmas as a small act of love ...

… so I wish all who have visited here, together with those close to them and my enemies too, a wonderful and blessed Christmas. May the peace of Christ and the blessings of Holy Spirit be with you, in your homes and on your travels; in your anxieties and your joys.

While I look forward to talking with you again next year I will reflect over Christmas about maintaining this blog, or resting it for a while. On the one hand it is hard to find time, on the other I have learned much from you, thank you for time, I am sure it is more valuable than mine and you have given it freely to me, a stranger, as a gift – there I knew God’s spirit was at work in you too!

Hamba kahle


Neil Turton said...

Hi Akakiwibear,

Let me put it to you that the reason we haven't heeded God's message is that it's not clear which bits are God's message and which bits are human corruptions. We don't have a shortage of people ready to tell us what the Bible really means. The trouble is that they all say different things so there's got to be some corruption going on. If I think that one group has merit in what they say then all I'm doing is choosing the group which happens to align with my opinions. In fact, I think it's quite clear that people read what they want to into the Bible.

As for your idea that all would be well if we just followed Christ's instruction to "love your neighbour as yourself"... wouldn't we end up in a world where our financial decisions had no consequences? I could be reckless in my business and someone would be there to bail me out. Even charity would be worth nothing. If I didn't help someone then someone else would. In fact, by helping someone in trouble, I'm denying the ability for someone else to help them.

After all, isn't that the argument you use to show that God shouldn't step in. Why should it be any different for humans? Let's have some consistency here.

Having said that, I wish you a wonderful Christmas and prosperous new year.

Peace, Neil.

akakiwibear said...

Neil, have I presented my case so badly that you say As for your idea that all would be well if we just followed Christ's instruction to "love your neighbour as yourself"... wouldn't we end up in a world where our financial decisions had no consequences? I could be reckless in my business and someone would be there to bail me out.

... if so let's see if this works.

The key part of your comment is wouldn't we end up in a world where our ... decisions had no consequences

Indeed that is the opposite of what I intended. All our decisions would have consequences - however if we lived a 'love your neighbour' life then the consequences would be very different from what we now have.

As God's spirit is in us all it is through us that God acts most readily.

Is God intervening by inspiring someone to aid work, or the workers of Tokoroa for that matter? Yes.

I have not said that God does not intervene - respond to prayer - what I have meant to say is that God does not force us to do anything - e.g. God did not stop Hitler, or George Bush or stop an earthquake nor does God mirco-manage the world or save me when jumping from a plane with no parachute.

What God is doing is leading/guiding .. inspiring people to do the right thing - do we always follow that teaching - no = freewill.

Either way we have to live with the consequences of what we do - be the consequences good or bad.

I suppose your next question will be to the effect that people would be moved to to good anyway ... my response will be on the lines that no it is not really in our nature or best interests to be self-sacrificing - it only God that inspires it in us.

Hamba kahle -peace