Sunday, December 30, 2012
The media, newspapers, Facebook, twitter, and even conversations have been taken over by the atrocities of the shooting in Connecticut- as they should. We should reel in disbelief, in pain, in grief, in so many emotions, as human kind. The loss of life in such a violent way is and should never be made to be acceptable. As all of these text or personal conversations swirl around my head I can't help but listen to the theme of the outcry to God; 'Why did God let this happen?' 'Why didn't God stop this? Isn't God all-powerful?' I recently read a stream from a friend's Facebook account who publicly (and bravely) stated these questions. In many ways, they should be commended as they basically voiced what much of the world is thinking; how could God allow such an atrocity to happen? I suppose that it is arguably human nature for the believing soul in a higher power to automatically question that higher being and ask these almost rhetorical questions. What I question though, in these instantaneous responses, is whether or not our culture and society has predisposed us to this reaction. I do think that emotional responses are worthy of respect. Everyone is entitled to the way they feel but I do raise the question because I have found that in certain singular catastrophic events in other places around the world, the response is quite different. In some circumstances no blame is laid at all; others the questions are far more introspective. Can this be a useful tool to investigate alternative reactions? One of my own personal reactions to the shootings in Newtown was to question myself and what part I had to do with it. I was most certainly not directly involved, nor indirectly, but perhaps on a larger scale I was somehow interconnected into this web of humans hurting other humans. I had to question myself, how often had I been mean or unkind to another person, how often do I judge or criticize another person, or did I even hold the door open for a stranger at the store the other day. I do not know the state of people I interact with on daily basis. Who could tell me before that the person I cut off in traffic was just coming home from a loved-ones funeral? It is questions like these ones which bring myself into this picture of our interconnectedness as humans. Instead of laying blame, how can we call ourselves into accountability? What can we focus our conversations on now?
Monday, December 3, 2012
The Christian calendar starts just a little bit earlier than the rest of the world. With the coming of the New Year I have been mulling over some thoughts lately. This is nothing new for me but it is one that does require a substantive amount of brain power, which is ironic because I should be using said brain power for my papers and exams. Figures! I have been contemplating my ecological footprint on this earth and trying to think of ways that I might be able to help diminish it a little. I recently became friends with a lady who is an avid vegan. She is very active and certainly broke many of the stereotypes I held of the vegan culture. I spent quite some time interrogating her as to her daily diet, the pros and cons, and her ethical reasons for choosing this lifestyle. I recently read an article that discussed the links between hormone supplements given to animals for slaughtering and the increased risks of cancer. I have also been doing some research into clothing stores that sell ethical clothing. I was both surprised and disheartened. Many of my beloved stores either sold ethically made clothing that costed an arm and a leg, or simply did not. With all these thoughts in my mind, I have been thinking about committing to a year of eating and living as ethically as possible. I know that there are very mixed options on this and I am quite aware that there are certain things that I am simply not able to do. This is not a cop-out but a recognition that I can only do my best; up until this point, I don't think I can say that. Here is what I am proposing to commit: 1) Eat a primarily vegetarian/vegan diet which would include local foods when available. 2) Only purchase fair trade products where available 3) Only purchase ethically made/second-hand 4) Make an intentional effort to travel as ethically as possible So, I am writing this for two reasons. One, to encourage myself to really commit to this and two, to hear your feedback on this. What have been your experiences? I would really like to hear what you have to say.
Sunday, June 17, 2012
This week has certainly been one of the most phenomenal experiences of my life. People coming together to discuss theology from all over the world- it does really get much beter than that. This past week we have engaged in conversations about Poverty and Wealth, Disaster and Creation, Christian Ethics and Worship and Spirituality. It has been absolutely amazing. We have class from Monday to Thursday and on Friday we went to a cultural centre where we got to paint local art, make batiks, and plant a rice field. The rice field in particular proved to be such fun. It was a rather muddy experience without much reprieve from the heat. We were able to ride on the back of a make-shift rig attached to 2 water buffalo who drag a grate around in circles to level off. the fields to plant the rice. Awesome! Yesterday we went to visit a community affected by a mudslide. It was fascinating listening to their perspective on what we would define as a disaster. The community is located on the side of the Merapi mountain which is an active volcano that erupted just a few months prior. Much of the mud that came down after a particularly hard rain was the ash that had settled around the mountain. We were greeted and addressed by local church leaders and an Indonesian man doing his PH.D. in local Indonesian culture. What was so interesting about this talk was their perspective of the mudslide. They told us that they believe that prior to an eruption, the mountain is cooking in preparation for a wedding. The wedding occurs when the eruption happens. What was noted from our group was that they did not seem to focus their attention on blaming God or asking God why this happened. They simply went to work to clean up the left-over wedding festivities. We walked around the village and were able to see the effects that mud, stones and water can have. A friend and I decided to go into an abandoned building. On the floor, below a small fill of stiff sand was beautifully colour tile. On the wall were plaques of Islamic prayer. It is hard to describe the feelings standing seeing the beauty in the destruction. What challenged me was my instinct to question God first, even though I had just heard the locals do the exact opposite. I think I will still need some time to reflect on this one a bit further. UP next, another exciting week of theological studies!
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
It is all strangely familiar; the sights, the smells, the buildings. There is one thing, though, that has been a new shock to the system-the humid heat. I have basically sweated my way through each day and peel my clothes off at the end of every day. I think my Indonesian room-mate must find me rather amusing with the amount of liquids I seem to be expelling here. It is certainly not the most pleasant thing to experience for my cold North American blood. When I first arrived I really wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to deal with the heat. I am a fairly stubborn person and so it was a challenge for me to accept that this heat might get the better of me. I have stayed happy and healthy and we’ve had a great time learning coping methods here together. Apparently Asia has been having a heat wave so it is even hotter than normal. YIKES! It has been about a week now that I have been in Indonesia and this conference is starting off wonderfully well. We have had some absolutely amazing discussion on the church’s place in issues such as Poverty and Wealth as well as Calvinist Theology and inter-cultural Spirituality. I was misinformed when I thought there would only be 30 people from across the world. There are actually 70 people in attendance here and I have met some truly inspiring people. Our daily schedule starts with breakfast at 7am and then community worship at 8. Then, we get onto the sticky buses and travel to the school to have our morning class from 9:30-11:30. We come home for lunch and then have another class in the afternoon. Everyone is taking 2 courses and then we are divided for our afternoon courses. I am taking Poverty and Wealth as well as the theology of Creation and Disaster. Fascinating! On Saturday a small group of us decided to make our way to one of the local beaches. I had forgotten how much I miss travelling with local people on various forms of transportation. This particular beach had blackened sand from the volcano. We did not go swimming as the undertow was too strong but it was nice to get to know some people better. Unfortunately, as soon as I arrived in Indonesia my computer decided not to work. I will do my very best to write as often as I can. Blessings, Margaret