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Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Urban Seed got 'Bolted'

Well, Andrew Bolt has done it again.
That commentator of reactionary right-winged vitriol has spoken out on what he sees as the scourge of left-winged tree huggers.

In his sites, the stop G20 group and Urban Seed (part of Collins St Baptist Church).
In response to their 'Bolting' Marcus Curnow, of Urban Seed has written a letter to Mr Bolt outlining why he as a Christian is involved in the process of the 'stop G20' campaign.

Bolt's article can be found here, but it is basic Bolt drivel. He believes the stop G20 campaign is being run by young lefties who support North Korea and are so simple minded and idealistic that they believe if everyone worked in a communal vegie garden everything would be ok. It is great to see his attempt at discrediting any opposing ideas to his own, he really is a master in that field.

Marcus' article can be found here and is a must read for any Christian considering why you should or shouldn't be involved in social activism.

I will just highlight a couple of the points that he makes:
Our inspiration, Jesus of Nazareth, copped guilt by association for those with whom he ate and was ultimately crucified under the false charge that he would destroy the temple (read: economic system) of his day. It was a false charge because, I believe, Jesus knew that in the end the “temple” would destroy itself (and I would suggest any system of economics that becomes an “–ism” always does!) All he did was predict it. Of great concern to him were the victims it would take with it. He was also concerned with how people could begin to imagine and practice an economics of “enough” for all.

Of course, creative protest and civil disobedience are also tools of nonviolence and essential to healthy democracy. From a Christian perspective, blockades formed part of the strategy of Jesus. Indeed, he wasn’t above a little symbolic property damage and blockading in order to make the point that our “light giving” structures are never divinely permanent. He taught that the real light that is produced by an economic system can’t be measured by satellites in the sky. For the “Son of Man”, the real temples of worship are our bodies. The ultimate source of light is found in people, especially the poor.

Urban Seed has been supportive of those seeking to place debt relief, fair trade, and more and better aid higher on the agenda of the finance ministers at the G20. Yet, while pursuing the Millenium Development Goals will produce many important outcomes for the poor, they will not “Make Poverty History”, especially if tacked uncritically upon the back of this system. Unfortunately the need to keep a broad based, celebrity driven, anti poverty campaign “feel good” and positive for the media means that hard truth’s can be inadvertently glossed over. That we in the global North must also “make the poverty of affluence history” is a much harder message to “sell”.

Far from escapist, I would contend that the witness of this Spirit in action through small, often misunderstood groups of people, from Jesus, to the early church and throughout history, is that love can and will, time and time again, make capitalism impossible and communism unnecessary.

God’s light is spread, but not through organisational establishments or structural systems. It is spread like a disease – through bodies, through touch, through breath. It is spread by people infected with love. At Credo Café, capitalists learn how to do dishes and socialists learn how to fund things and we all learn how to love our enemies. Come and join us sometime as we break bread, confess our arrogance and remind ourselves of Christ’s body broken in the world. We know this as the Economy of God and its lighting up the entire world!
Jesus shared his last meal with a capitalist, a terrorist, and some self-employed representatives of the fishing industry who were obviously dissatisfied enough to down tools (at least for a time). Taking bread, he broke it as a symbol of solidarity with bodies broken by our systems, and of the ultimate power of self sacrificing love. (Talk about anti-competitive behavior!)

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Thursday, October 26, 2006


Church camp

On the weekend we had our church camp.
It was a great chance to get away and just hang out with people from our church community.
We went to a local Scout Camp at the base of Mount Disappointment.
We did all the usually campy things, hiked, played board games and ate lots of great food.

Just 3 reflections that I have on the experience of our church camp:

1) The people who attended were, on the whole, the same people who are most actively involved in the life and ministry of our church. What does that say about church community?

2) Children breath a totally different atmosphere into a community. We had a great time over the nights when there were no kids there but during the days when we had children visiting the camp was just a different place. It was great to see everyone pitch in to help hold the twin babies and keep the toddlers entertained. It was a great illustration of how communities can work together to raise children.

3) Worship of God is so much more fulfilling if we involve the beauty of his creation. To be in an outdoor setting for a weekend was great. Sunday morning we had worship in the open air chapel. Melissa and I led the service and so we encouraged people to reflect on God's creation. With our eyes closed we listened to the sounds and with our eyes open we went and looked at what God had created.

So it was a great church camp, everyone who went, for a day or three, really enjoyed themselves and felt closer to their church community.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Despicable - link to a Rant

Stephen Said posted some thought provoking questions today.
Click the link to read the whole post:

{neurotribe.net}: ::Rants-despicable:
Trying to do some preparation but I have a sinking feeling in my stomach and I'm occasionally teary when I think about the incident that took place that included the young woman with a learning disability, a homeless man and a taxi driver. (See here and here for respective articles.)

I have been listening to the radio today and hearing all sorts of outrage being expressed. I feel sickened and feel very much for all of the victims involved.

I also hear people baying for the blood of the young men involved. I can help but ask the question though, did these young men, spring fully formed into this world, or did our society and culture shape who they are today?

Are the boys evil? Are the boys parents and families evil? Is our wider society evil? Where does the responsibility lie?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Are you trying to co-opt Jesus for the ALP?

I found this post holding an excerpt of an interview with Kevin Rudd on Lateline. I heard Rudd speak about this same issue on the Religion report last week. More comments to follow after his words:

TONY JONES: ...You write about Jesus' revulsion at the hypocrisy of the religious and political elites of his time. You seem to be suggesting that if Jesus were alive today, he would feel the same revulsion about Australia?
Kevin Rudd: holy man

KEVIN RUDD: What I am saying is that from a social gospel tradition, or a Christian socialist tradition, what you see in the gospel is a strong emphasis on the impoverished, the poor, the dispossessed, the outcast, the oppressed. What we've sought to do, in that tradition of Christianity and politics, is to say that one of the functions of Christians in politics is to speak on their behalf; to speak for those who do not have a voice. Therefore when you look, for example, at global poverty today, who speaks for them? Who speaks for those who are currently suffering all sorts of human rights oppression around the world? Who speaks for the planet itself, which is currently subject to this enormous challenge called global climate change. That's where the contemporary challenge lies with this tradition of social justice, which you see alive in Bonhoeffer's teachings 60 years ago.

TONY JONES: Are you trying to co-opt Jesus for the ALP?

KEVIN RUDD: No, this a fight back on our part, Tony. For the last decade Mr Howard, Mr Costello, Mr Downer, Mr Abbott, at various occasions, have whacked various Christian leaders for daring to come out and say that they'd disagreed with various social policies, or economic policies, of the Howard Government. When, for example, we had church leaders come out and attack the Government's extreme industrial relations laws, Mr Costello laid into them, saying they had no qualifications to do so because they weren't economists. Mr Downer has done the same when leading churchmen have come out and attacked the Government's policies on the war in Iraq. I've got to say, when I heard Mr Howard say in Parliament the other day that there was no such thing as Catholic social teaching on industrial relations, I nearly choked. There is an entire Papal encyclical on the question of industrial relations explicitly in defence of the rights of trade unions. So what I am doing is simply rolling this back in the other direction and saying, "Enough is enough. There is an entirely different tradition of Christianity and politics," which we would call Christian Social Democracy, which needs to be heard, and that's why I'm speaking out.

Kevin Rudd recently spoke at the Bonhoeffer for today conference here in Melbourne. His speech also appeared as an article in the current Monthly magazine.
Now contrary to what might be popular belief I am not a die hard Labor voter. Having said that, the more I hear Kevin Rudd speak the more I respect the man.

He has been speaking coherently and logically on the need for both a seperation of church and state (secular democracy) and the need for politicians with a Christian conscience to stand up for what they believe in within public debate in Australia.
He has also been calling for people to stop thinking that Christian = Liberal/National Party.

I think that his comments have been a breath of fresh air into the political debate in Australia.

At the last Federal Election the rise of the Family First party led to numerous seats being handed to the Liberal party through preferencing. I have heard numerous Christians comment that they vote for that person because they are a Christian, failing to realise that Christians sit on all sides of the political debate in Australia.

I think that as individual Christians we can become too locked into a specific political party, be it the Labor, Liberal, National, Green, Democrat or Family First party, and see that as the ultimate fulfilment of 'Christian' politics.

We need to take a step back and realise that there are passionate Christians on all side of the debate.

Perhaps God is bigger than one political party?

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Called to move on....

Here is the letter that appeared from Melissa and myself along with our church newsletter today.

Dear corps folk,

In June Melissa and I were approached to consider joining the team at Footscray Salvation Army.
We were asked consider moving into the Salvation Army building (the old Carinya boys home) and living in community with the other team members and help in outreaching to the people of Footscray.
Since returning from our YES team trip to India, Melissa and I had been challenged about our lifestyle and where God was calling us to serve him.
As we prayed and discussed our options with other people we decided that God was calling us to step out in faith and leave the security of Greensborough Corps at the end of the year.
I say step out in faith because neither of us will be taking paid employment with the Footscray Corps as well as the challenge of living in a large house with other people.
We feel that God is calling us to sacrifice what we find comfortable and step out in faith to follow him.

It was not an easy decision for us to make because we have both loved our time here at the church. We are both passionate about the future direction that the corps is looking towards and are disappointed that we will not be here to be actively involved in seeing it come to fruition. We are both grateful for the opportunity the church has given us to minister within it. I especially am grateful to all the corps leaders, both past and present, who supported me in my internship and youth worker roles. I am grateful that I was given the opportunity to grow and develop as a leader always under the guidance of people committed to seeing the youth ministry of our church grow. We are both indebted to those in the corps who have supported us both personally and within the youth ministry, without you we would not have been able to achieve what we have.

The church has committed a lot of resources into the youth ministry over the 5 years that I have been involved at the corps. Some of the fruit we have already seen. Some of the fruit our church will never see. I have valued the connections I have made with young people in their schools. Young people who if not for the financial commitment of our church might never have contact with a church. These are the fruits that our church might never see develop, but I assure you they are growing. I know that as the corps continues into the future to commit to ministries reaching outside of itself, like the schools and Mainly Music, the fruit will be abundant.

I ask that as a church you pray for Melissa and myself as we prepare for this new challenge. I ask that you pray for the work of the Salvation Army, not just in Greensborough and Footscray but the world over. You will remain in our thoughts and prayers.

Liam Bantock

Saturday, October 14, 2006


Knowing when to quit

As I have already said on numerous occasions, I am a big Dilbert fan.
The other day Scott Adams, the Creator of Dilbert, talked on his blog about being in over his head and how he came to be a successful cartoonist.
As a follow on from that his latest blog is about knowing when to quit. I think it raises some interesting points not just for businesses but also for the church and for discipleship.

The basic premise is that only 1 in 10 businesses will succeed.
Scott points out that the key to success is having people who love your product rather than just people who like your product. It is easy to have everyone like your product, but that doesn't breed success. In fact, it does the opposite.

Discipleship is something I blog about alot. To me discipleship is costly, and by its very nature is not going to be attractive to everyone. Precisely because it is costly is why I am passionate about it. Precisely because it is costly is why some people aren't passionate about it. They deem it too hard and not worth the effort. How does this fit with the song we sing 'the world for God', will everyone want to follow in the footsteps of Jesus? Or is it too hard for everyone?

What do you think?
How do we define success in discipleship?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Your kingdom come......

Last night at bible study we looked at the Lord's prayer in Matthew 6. I love looking at what the Lord's prayer actually teaches us about praying, which most people skip over and just say the words. Today I have been catching up on some blogs I didn't get a chance to read over the weekend and there has been a common theme running through them which links into the Lord's prayer. Funny how God works like that isn't it.

Last night as we read Matt 6:10, "Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" we talked about what that actually means. Jesus was praying that heaven would happen on earth, believing it would become a reality. This prayer doesn't sit well with the idea that God will destroy the Earth and take all his good little Christians to heaven, in fact it doesn't sit with that idea at all. The second point that came up was how can we say these words if we don't believe they will happen and if we aren't actively making them happen.

I came across a blog post talking about what we can learn from the Amish about the power of pacifism. Ben looks at the shooting at the Amish school in the US last week. A young girl who stood up to a gunman and said "shoot me and let everyone else go."

A few years ago I joined with tens of thousands of other Melbournians and marched in the city to say that invading Iraq was not the way to deal with global terrorism or Saddam Hussein. The biggest accusation levelled against those who objected to invading Iraq was "so you support Saddam Hussein." Apart from the fact that I think those protests have been vindicated by the current situation in Iraq and the further discontent bred from the invasion that led to home grown terrorists attacking the London underground, I think we protestors still have to learn from the experience.

It is very easy to protest about the way things are, and I believe it is very necessary, but our protests hold no integrity if we do not have an alternative to put forward.

I came across two different (1 & 2) articles looking at how Andrew Bolt's attack on global warming campaigners are at best misleading and at worst down right wrong. The issue of global warming and the ecological crisis are now widely recognised (even if Andrew Bolt wants to stick his head in the sand) but how effective have we been at putting forward alternatives that people want to take on?

I came across this quote from Martin Luther King, “Today the judgment of God is upon the church for its failure to be true to its mission. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.” Richard Munn, the author of the article, suggests some helpful principles for what it should look like for Salvationists especially, but all people to seek justice.

What issues do we as Christians get annoyed about? What issues do we as a Church get passionate about? What issues does our Salvation Army get involved in speaking about?

Are they issues of justice? Sometimes the Salvation Armyspeaks out.

Or are they issues of personal preference? How many Christians and churches get passionate about what style of music they should be playing or what time the Sunday morning meeting should be on?

Do we sound prophetic? Or do we sound pathetic? Prophetic zeal or irrelevant social club?

In the church our 'prophetic utterances' are more often about fortune telling for those in the club, rather than identifying issues of justice that need to be tackled, and providing God's advice on how to deal with them.

A young Amish girl standing up to a gunman saying "shoot me and let everyone else go", this is the word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Monday, October 09, 2006


More links from a busy blogger

Sorry about the lack of posts, I have been busy.
I will write a fresh post tomorrow, but for tonight here are 3 blog posts I came across today that I wanted to share.

A new blog by Michael Coleman, who is the manager of the Salvation Army's Bridge program here in Melbourne.
His Welcome to the School of Prophets is an introduction to what hopefully will be a great new blog.

Another great post from the 'Jesus Creed' blog, this one is about what Paul in Romans 14 teaches us about dealing with differences in the church.

This article from the Rubicon blog shares what it is like growing up gay in the church.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Quick links

Here are some things I have come across in the past few days.

Make Affluence History by Sponsoring a child.

The difference between Heaven and Hell (on earth).

Forgiveness is weird.

Here is a great post about real Christian manhood.

Rethinking church service effectiveness.


Quick links

Here are some things I have come across in the past few days.

Make Affluence History by Sponsoring a child.

The difference between Heaven and Hell (on earth).

Forgiveness is weird.

Here is a great post about real Christian manhood.

Rethinking church service effectiveness.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


What does the humanity of Jesus teach us about God?

As Christians we have a book full of stories that we consider to be inspired by God.
I wonder how much you truly let that inspiration challenge you?
I mean it is all good and well to read your bible in the morning and feel like you should actually talk to someone who gets picked on at school. But is it a once off response, if it happens at all?

I have to prepare a tutorial paper for my class tomorrow afternoon. I had to read an article on how the Synopic Gospels (Mark, Matthew and Luke) portray Jesus. I found the article to be a good read.
The key question I have decided to focus on in my paper, and here on my blog, is the question of 'what does the humanity of Jesus teach us about God?'

Now we talk alot about Incarnation (if we really understand what that term means), but my question is deeper than the incarnation. I am talking about the humanity of Jesus.

2 incidents highlight where this question comes from.

Firstly, the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus is praying. Previously he had told the disciples that he was going to Jerusalem and would be killed by the authorities. Even if this was a supernatural knowledge (it didn't have to be, even a blind man could see that Jesus had been upsetting the powerful people in his ministry), Gethsemane turns the tables. Jesus prays, "if this cup can be taken from me, let it be. But not my will, your will be done." Jesus prays as if his prayer could change the order of the universe. In his humanity he doesn't know what the future holds and so prays that God's will might be done.

The second is Jesus' last moments on the cross. "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Is this not the cry of someone who has faced utter hopelessness? Is it the cry of someone who is fed up with God because of where that God has placed him? (this question will upset some, because we think that to question God is wrong, even a 'sin', but isn't that exactly what Jesus is doing?) What comes next is that Jesus dies and Mark's gospel records that the Centurion (of all people) comments "surely this man was [a] Son of God."
Here at the moment of Jesus' death, the most human moment in his life, the Centurion sees his divinity.

So does the humanness of Jesus, who was also God, show us anything about who God is?
I would have to say a hearty 'Yes!'

His question in Gethsemane shows us that Jesus didn't know everything that was to come.
Is this true of the Father and the Spirit as well? If we hold to a belief in free will, then we have to sit with this question.
Does a God who offers free will, but knows what decision you will make, really offer free will?

His question on the Cross, 'why God?' shows us that it is very human to ask this question of God. It is ok to question God and his motives. (Don't believe me, just read the Old Testament.) Does this mean that God questions Godself? I would say yes, because we can see in the Old Testament instances where God shows remorse for some of the things he did (like wiping out whole people groups).

In the moment that Jesus dies, that moment of his most humaness, the Centurion highlights his divinity.
Jesus is God enfleshed, the revelation of who God is. Jesus dies.
Now I am not saying that God too dies because I don't believe that.
But what does Jesus' human death show us about God? And the answer is not that it shows us that he loved us so much that he died for our sins or any other cliche like that.

What does the fact that Jesus' divinity is seen in his most human act tell us about who God is?

Will you let the inspired word of God challenge your thinking today?

Sunday, October 01, 2006


Page design update

Just a quick note, if you haven't noticed the changes already.

I have added a banner at the top of the page, which links to an anti-human trafficking web site.

I have added some new blog links on the side bar.

I have also added a new set of ads on the sidebar. They are positioned so that hopefully as you read my entries they will catch your eye with something of interest.
If they do interest you, please feel free to click on them.

Please check out all the new links and let me know what you think of it all.

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