Public Theology

Great couple of days on retreat, led my Stuart Murray (post Christendom). We did some work on parables and values all good stuff. Over the retreat I was also reading A Scandalous Prophet The way of Mission after Newbigin. Someone I have great respect for, and whose work over the years I have valued greatly. The first chapter is on Newbigin as a public theologian but I couldn’t help questioning what was written as a very Christendom approach (I am aware he was writing at a time when this was stronger) but it also made question the whole role of debating theologically with structures and power systems, and how do we approach change and dialogue in a more powerless way. How we promote a system that is more about powerless persuasion and journey and not one that promoted as the right and only alternative?

I kind of link it to a stange idea about applying to go on Big Brother, with the idea to see if I could get the whole group to aggree on certain values and questions to promote through the whole programme. Real basic lowest common denominator (LCD) stuff like “where is the love” or “if you don’t know your nieghbour then talk to them” or even just concious raising stuff like “why is the world not like it could be”. Or even develop a symbol that summed up these kind of statements. I thought we could spray cleaning fluid into the grass so every time the camera showed the garden a message would be seen.

Anyway back to the real world, I wonder if LCD is the kind of public theology we need in the post christendom world.

Keith writes a complex issue so brilliantly I wanted to paste some here

Cotton is a Christian issue! Cotton and other agricultural subsidies in rich western countries are robbing people in poor countries like Burkina Faso of honestly earned income. What should our response be?

Burkina Faso’s exemplary efficiency
Burkina Faso is a model of efficiency and production – at least when it comes to cotton. Her cotton farmers are the most efficient in the world, producing cotton at only 21 cents/lb. Cotton, known as “white gold” in Burkina, is the main export of this, the third poorest country in the world, providing half her export earnings. So you would think that everyone would be keen to applaud such an exemplary effort of a developing country helping itself, independant of international aid. Especially in a country of which US officials recently said: “we are proud of their success in encouraging economic and personal freedoms…”

American cotton subsidies take from the poor
But not so, apparently. Even at such prices, Burkina struggles to sell her cotton. This is because American cotton, produced at 72c/lb is subsidised to the tune of 3 billion/year to her 25 000 cotton farmers, thus depriving the poor of an honest income. It is estimated these subsidies cost West African cotton farmers $250 million in lost income. Burkina Faso, for instance, received $10 million in U.S. aid in 2002 but lost an estimated $13.7 million in exports because of U.S. cotton subsidies.

Next to this, the U.S. pledge of $7 million (of which only $5 million is new money) to aid West African cotton farmers hurt by these subsidies seems ridiculous. As Francois Traore, president of the union of Burkinabe cotton producers, said:
“This is a question of human rights. We’re not asking for a gift, we’re asking for just rules.”

Continue reading here

House Crazy

Lacking posts due to house hassles. We eventually have had an offer on our house but the one we were buying the people pulled out, after we had had surveys which will end up costing us a few hundred quid. Most others in the area are over priced and have been on the market ages. The others we have seen (17 in total) have either been out of our price range or when we have put in offers been people who are not that much in need of moving or just testing the market so hold out for the asking price. Even when we came within 5K of the asking price on houses that been on the market for over a year. This seems mad when on average the houses that are selling are going for 8% or 16K under the asking price (including those in the area we are looking when people genuinely need to move), just not the ones we want!