Tuesday, February 21, 2006

slavery: yesterday, today, forever?

Once upon a time there was this little community living in a village called Clapham. Just south of London. A rich guy called Thornton kinda funded their life together (not to mention his 34-bedroomed housed where many of them lived). A few of them - Sharp, Clarkson, Macaulay -were set aside as researchers, gathering evidence. A woman called Hannah More popularised their concerns in tracts and schools. A number where hymn-writers, and John 'amazing grace' Newton was a bit of a guru. There was just the one clergyman among them (but another one travelled from Cambridge to be a spiritual advisor - actually we named our son after that one - Charles Simeon - he is a legend). But most of them were Members of Parliament - about 30 in all. And yes, lets not forget, they were pretty much all deeply committed followers of Jesus...

Under the leadership of William Wilberforce (whom the current Archbishop of Canterbury considers to be the most influential Briton of the last 1000 years) this community decided that slavery was wrong and so for 40 years - yes, 40 years!! - they dedicated themselves to fighting it through parliament ... until it was abolished. Along the way there was the founding of Sierra Leone, the growth of overseas mission, and the transformation of the social landscape of Britain.
Read all about it in Clifford Hill The Wilberforce Connection (Monarch, 2004)

Well ... did you know that 2007 marks the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade? And so here at Carey Baptist College we are beginning to plan a forum in 2007 where we will explore modern slaveries, 21st century slaveries both in NZ and abroad. Where is abolition needed today? From what do people need to be freed?

What do you think? Help me out with the planning!
When you consider modern slaveries - what comes to mind?

nice chatting


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

opening our own document

Here goes ... let cyberspacian conversation begin!

But where to begin? Maybe with something that is uppermost on my mind! I have a different kind of background. Sometimes I introduce myself as a 30:30:30:10 person.
30% Indian (as that is where I spent all my childhood); 30% Kiwi (as I am a New Zealander); 30% American (the boarding school in India was American, I did my theological training in the USA, and my Barby's family is in the USA and so we go back now and then); 10% Southland (in NZ - where I had that hugely shaping early pastoral experience).

Given this understanding (from the inside) of these cultural contexts, what interests me is that NZ and the USA are just so different. The christian community and its leaders have a much higher profile in the States. I wonder whether it is linked way back to the fact that the early European imkigration to the USA was by people wanting to be freed FOR religion, while here in NZ that early immigration was more by those wanting to be freed FROM religion ... and that something of that difference remains with us, making this cultural context far more challenging. What do you think? Has this shaped us ever since?

Then I look at my time back in New Zealand ... John Wimber dominated our church life in 1980s just as Bill Hybels did in the 1990s and Rick Warren has done in the 2000s. I have valued each of these people's contributions and read their material avidly ... but I still do wonder if we have too many missiological eggs in that cultural basket. Might not the greater hostility and cynicism towards things 'christian' in NZ mean that we have to be far more subtle about how we incorporate this, or any, inspiration from the States? It can't be 'cut and paste' - we realise that. But could it be 'open our own document and begin writing' just a little bit more? What would it take to do so?

Nice chatting