June 2019 | 8
CONTENTS OPENING Secretary’s 03 General Greetings to TIM-40
04 Editorial Notes LENTEN MEDITATIONS Temptations 06 Tensions, and Taunts Time of 07 Lent, Repentance and Renewal
09 Hosanna Lord, Save Us 12
Remembering The Broken Body
14 Love Cruciﬁed 15 Easter Devotional AT A GLANCE Ecumenism 18 Re-envisioning in a Pandemic-Stricken World Caribbean Region’s ﬁrst 19 CWM issue of “Caribbean Buzz”
20 Member Church News 22 A Warm Welcome
57 TAKE A LOOK
Vulnerability, 25 Without There Is No Love
29 We Are Resilient People 31 Shadow Pandemic 36 Lent After the Anthropocene 42
How can women “Rise to Life” amid gender-based violence?
ReConnected PIM Stories
45 Rise to Life you will 46 Ifseeyouthebelieve, glory of God on my 50 Reflecting Mission Journey for the 51 Prayer Partners-in-Mission
52 SEEN & HEARD
60 LAST PAGE
General Secretary’s Greetings to TIM-40 Dear sisters and brothers in Christ, I bring you greetings of love and peace in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, from the Council for World Mission (CWM)! As the CWM remembers God’s unfailing love and faithfulness for the past 40 years of the Training in Mission (TIM) programme, I am glad to bring greetings through this INSiGHT issue to all those who have been part of TIM in various capacities. TIM 40 celebrations are underway, remembering and reflecting the missional concerns of CWM’s past 40 years of TIM with the theme, “Rising to Life: Celebrating the Sowers and the Seeds of 40 Years of Training in Mission.” This so happens at this crucial period of our history. The world today is faced with numerous challenges threatening life and all its forms. The Covid-19 global pandemic has already taken millions of lives and exposed how corrupted our systems are and how fragile our lives are. Alongside the pandemic, vaccine injustices, misinformation, and neo-liberal health care systems are contributing to further loss of lives. In addition, the world is also grappling with various other challenges like climate change, natural disasters and, more importantly, the armed conflicts around the world taking the lives of innocent people, especially in Ukraine at the moment. It is unbelievable that all this news of pandemics and war is happening in the 21st Century like that of a primitive age. It shows how fragile the ecosystem is, how the civilisation is demoralised, and how sinful nature is dominating the excessive politics and economy. It is at this juncture of history, we celebrate TIM-40 looking back to 40 years and look forward to our future engagement with the world as transforming disciples of Jesus Christ. More than ever before, the world is yearning for discipleship that can be a game-changer for the transformation of the world towards building a new heaven and a new earth. Since 1981, the Training in Mission Programme has been promoting leadership and service to the church and God’s mission by providing opportunities for young people to learn about mission thinking and actions through lectures, exposure visits, projects, and work in various contexts. It also aims to offer training that provides a wider vision, deepened commitment, and a strengthened sense of fellowship and partnership with Christians around the world, particularly through CWM member churches. TIM is one of the longest standing training programmes in the history of ecumenical missionary endeavours, becoming a steppingstone for numerous missionaries, church leaders, professors, and ecumenical activists. More importantly, it is one of the most creative training programmes in mission with the emphasis on learning by doing and thinking. There have been more than 400 young people who have engaged together in realising CWM’s transforming mission ethos. They have embodied missionary discipleship as they have lived, studied, struggled, celebrated, wept, and sung together their way through the challenges Christ has called them to meet. Their formation through TIM sent them back to their homes to be seeds of Christ’s new life to be grown and flowered in many ways. Some of this will have been in ways that Church recognises, like ministry, but many more have offered their gifts beyond the narrow church space as they have lived out the changes effected in them by the profound encounters TIM provides. As we are looking forward to engaging and interacting with one another commemorating the 40 years of TIM, I would like to invite you all to celebrate TIM’s 40th anniversary with us. It offers CWM, member churches and partners an opportunity to give thanks for the work of the TIM programme, to rejoice in the contribution the participants have made in all areas of the church’s life, and to look into the future to offer a platform for their further insight and contribution into the current CWM mission ethos: Rising to Life. May God bless you all. Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum General Secretary Council for World Mission (CWM) www.cwmission.org 03
Editorial Notes Greetings to you in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ! This second INSiGHT of the CWM for the year 2022 comes at a time when the world is grappling with various challenges threatening the lives of vulnerable populations across the globe. As the General Secretary, Rev. Dr Jooseop rightly highlighted in his greetings to TIM - 40, the Covid-19 global pandemic has adversely impacted the medical, social, economic, and political structures of almost every nation in the world exposing further the already existing systemic greed and corruption, uncovering the medical and social inequalities, and further widening the gap between rich and poor. The Covid -19 further intensiﬁed the gender-based violence due to the asymmetric power structures embedded in every aspect of our society showing how vulnerable women are under the shadow of the pandemic. In addition, while not only causing a deepened digital divide, the Covid-19 also has unleashed another pandemic called, infodemic—a pandemic of misinformation—due to the never-ending stream of false, unscientiﬁc, and unproven information in this digital world. We are also faced with ongoing armed conflicts across the nations. It is frightening to see how easily the ideological conflicts are turning out to be military operations. While the world is already struggling with the military coup in Myanmar, the Taliban’s occupation of Afghanistan, and various civil wars in several countries, we hear the news of Russia’s military occupation of Ukraine. These armed conflicts have been causing a great loss to the lives of innocent people making entire nations to be vulnerable. In addition, further escalating climate issues, migrations, racial and caste-based oppressions, exploitation of indigenous people, and natural calamities are endangering all forms of life making the Earth vulnerable. Not only did we become vulnerable, but the mission of the Church itself became vulnerable due to the ongoing social distancing measures that caused the cessation of missional activities that require physical or face-to-face meetings. It is in this context, we seek to address the theme, “Vulnerability” exploring various forms of vulnerability through the articles and devotionals presented in this INSiGHT issue. In particular, ‘Vulnerability’ is also ﬁtting for this season of Lent, during which we remember the sufferings, death, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Lent is a time to reflect upon how Jesus Christ chose to become vulnerable to the social, political, and religious forms of oppression and overcame them through his resurrection offering us hope to overcome our own vulnerabilities. This INSiGHT issue is divided into various sections. I would, however, like to bring your attention to the Lenten meditations and Viewpoints articles. As we enter the holy season of Lent, I believe these meditations will provide insight for your devotions, especially for the prominent days in Lent like Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter. The Viewpoints articles are meant to address the theme from various perspectives and contexts. I hope these articles will enrich your knowledge in understanding our various vulnerabilities and ﬁnd strength in them. I would like to thank all the contributors including the Moderator of the CWM Rev. Lydia Neshangwe who contributed the Easter devotional, for sparing their valuable time in providing these meditations and articles. I would also like to thank General Secretary Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum for giving me this responsibility to lead our communications team who worked round the clock to get this INSiGHT ready in a very short period. May the Lord bless all of us with insight to discern, courage to face, and spirit to overcome our vulnerabilities. Rev. Dileep Kumar Kandula Mission Secretary - General Secretariat & Mission Secretary - Communications (Interim) Council for World Mission (CWM)
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Tensions, Temptations and Taunts By Rev Hamish Galloway, Moderator of Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ) This article ﬁrst appeared in the PCANZ website.
he temptation of Jesus speaks to me of our human condition stretched to the limit! That in turn speaks to us at this time, as we enter a third Lenten season under the shadow of Covid, with angry protestors camped outside Parliament, hospitality and tourism businesses going to the wall, and heightened anxiety in response to the fast- approaching Omicron wave. We are being stretched. For us, as for Jesus, there are tensions, temptations, and taunts to cope with. In my mind’s eye I can see the tension on the face of Jesus as he came to the end of his 40 day fast. The biblical text simply says, ‘he was hungry’. I read a quirky novel once that went into graphic detail about how a fast this long would actually affect him! The haggard tension on his face from the sustained deprivation would be palpable. We too know tension from sustained pressure. We face ongoing cycles of planning and cancellation, anxiety and relief, hope and despair. Most of us have relationships strained by differing opinions. At this point of extreme vulnerability for Jesus, he is tempted to take false paths. What are the temptations we face at this time of vulnerability? Early in the pandemic the temptations were around economy verses health. Now it comes to us in the form of demonising those who disagree with us, and some proclaiming individual rights versus the good of all. And there are the taunts. The devil saved this best for the last when it came to Jesus – “if you are the son of God…”. I see this kind of behaviour on TV, and I hear it on the deck after a game of golf: politicians mocked and even threatened, police belittled, and school students teased for wearing masks! It is hard to deal with. So how did Jesus deal with the tension, temptations and taunts? Huge resilience indeed. And the text gives two sources for this resilience, still available to us today. One was the ﬁlling of the Holy Spirit. The other, a deep and informed use of scripture that empowered him to combat the misinformed misuse that was thrown at him As we navigate the tension, temptations, and taunts in our context this Lent, may we too draw on these deep spiritual resources to sustain us. In a season popular for what we can give up, I have always thought the emphasis should be more on what we can take up! Now, as much as ever, we need to be taking up spiritual practices which allow us to be more and more open to the sustaining power of the Holy Spirit and to the scriptures that carried Jesus through a time such as this.
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Lent, Time of Repentance and Renewal Vulnerability of God invites for repentance, Communion in solidarity and resistance with the vulnerable communities and nature Sigamoney Shakespeare Researcher, Korean Christianity and Culture Research Institute, Yonsei University Korea. Lecturer, Yonsei University Coordinator SEST Master of Theology program, Hanshin University
he word Lent comes from the Anglo-Saxon Lencten meaning Spring. Traditionally believers spend a lot of time meditating, fasting, and praying during lent. Some church traditions emphasise fasting and sharing with the poor. When I was pastoring in India, Church members would fast during the lent and save rice and money that is ﬁnally brought to the church and be shared with the poor at the end of lent. There are church members who fast and share their food every day with the weak. Different people fast differently. Some eat one meal a day, some do not take any protein and eat only vegetarian food, some eat after the sunset, and others give up pleasures, events, and celebrations. In some churches, weddings, houses, or church dedications occur before the lent or after the lent and not during the lent. The idea seems to avoid celebrations as people are fasting and meditating. In south India, women love to decorate themselves with flowers, but some do not decorate themselves with flowers during the lent. The number forty is very signiﬁcant in the Christian tradition. Moses, Elijah and Jesus’ fasting in the desert are some of the events in the bible that remind us of forty days. The book of Jonah is meaningful in today’s context to read in relation to Lent. The people of Nineveh sinned against God. Sin because of which some were enjoying the luxury of life by exploiting the weak and exploiting God’s creation. When the weak and nature is exploited, God stands in solidarity with the vulnerable. Today in the name of economic development, nature is exploited, and nature groans with its vulnerability along with the vulnerable indigenous communities who are forced out of their forest homes for mining resulting in deforestation. In the book of Jonah, God sends Jonah to warn and tell people to stop the exploitation and destruction of the vulnerable groups of the society who are also in the image of God and nature, which reflects the image of God. Jonah runs away from Nineveh, but God shows Jonah what destruction of life means, letting him encounter a near-death experience. Jonah then goes to Nineveh to preach the prophetic message of God warning people to repent from their sins.
Therefore, Lent reminds us of the voice of John the Baptist in the wilderness, calling us to repent for the reign of God is near. Lent is a Time of Atonement for our Sins After listening to Jonah’s message, the people of Nineveh, including animals, fasted. They covered themselves with ashes and sackcloth to show they were mourning. Ashes remind humanity that God created human beings from dust. Whenever human beings exploit each other and exploit nature, God reminds us that we came from dust and will return to dust. The people of Nineveh humbled themselves before God covered themselves with ashes reminding themselves of their vulnerability, and God forgave Nineveh since people have repented. During the forty days of fasting, the King, ministers, common people, and enslaved people all became equal with ashes and sackcloth; hence, there was no hierarchy to exploit each other. Their repentance from arrogance and exploitative attitude changed God’s heart to accept them. Humanity failed to walk according to the word of God to care for the vulnerable in society. God hears the cry of the vulnerable community and sends leaders through whom God liberated the vulnerable community. God sent Moses to liberate the Israelite community from
Lent is a time of Repentance. Historically during lent, believers, are called to repent and return to God.
Egypt. Likewise, from time to time, God sent leaders. Then Judges were sent to lead people in such a way the vulnerable of the community were not oppressed but taken care of with Justice. Then kings were sent to see that the poor, widows, orphans, and strangers were taken care of. Vulnerability of God Finally, the powerful God sent Jesus to save humanity from sins and establish the reign of God. The social order and hierarchy was reversed by Sending Jesus. To save the vulnerable humanity, God, the all-powerful, became vulnerable in the form of Jesus. God emptied Godself and became human, vulnerable to the point of death on the cross. We read, in Philippines 2, the Kenosis journey of Jesus. Jesus took the form of enslaved person humbled to the point of Death. Jesus was not a saviour who stood outside the vulnerable community and preached for their salvation but entered the zone of vulnerability reversing the social order of that time. God above became God among the vulnerable, reminding humanity of its vulnerability and showing the way that is only by standing in solidarity with the vulnerable. John D. Caputo, while speaking of what must be the concern of theology, says, “to be vulnerable to the vulnerability of the other, to become weak at their weakness, to be affected by their afflicting.”1. Ulrich Schmiedel brings out the characteristic of vulnerable God, saying, “God is integrated into the vulnerability of humanity.” According to Ulrich, God is interpreted as related and responsible to the vulnerable people, and the vulnerable people are interpreted as related and responsible to God. With the integration of God into the nexus of rationality and responsibility through vulnerability, God promotes the resistance against the differential distribution of dignity.2 Church of God is called today to live with the vulnerable communities, the refugees, the homeless, the Dalits, the economically exploited communities and all those denied human dignity. The faithful community of believers is called to be God’s prophetic voice by standing in solidarity with the vulnerable people and exploited nature, challenging the systems of exploitation, and working towards the reign of God. Lent calls us to deny ourselves taking up the cross with ashes on our heads. It gives a clear message that we have emptied ourselves. Having nothing to lose, we are strong to proclaim the prophetic message of God against the exploitation of people and nature. There is nothing to fear as we have a vulnerable God journeying with us.
John. D. Caputo. The Weakness of God: The Theology of Event (Bloomington: Indiana University press),143.
Ulrich Schmiedel, Mourning the Un-mournable? Political theology between refugees and religion,” Political theology Vol 18, No 17November 2917): 612-627.
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Hosanna Lord, Save Us By Rev. Dileep Kumar Kandula, Mission Secretary, CWM General Secretariat and Mission Secretary – Communications (Interim) Rev. Dileep Kumar Kandula is an ordained Pastor of the Church of South India (CSI) Krishna-Godavari (Coastal Andhra) Diocese and served as an Ecumenical co-worker with the Presbyterian Church of Korea (PCK) before moving to CWM.
alm Sunday is one of the most important days in the Christian calendar. It is the Sunday before Easter and marks the beginning of Holy Week, the week of events leading to the cruciﬁxion of Jesus. On this day, churches around the world commemorate the Triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem. This is the ﬁrst time in all the gospel narratives that Jesus elevates Himself. On Palm Sunday, we remember the joyful shouts of the people who welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem, “Hosanna; blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord” (Mt. 21:9, Mk. 11:9-10, Lk. 19: 38 and Jn. 12:13). Even as we celebrate today, we shout joyfully, saying ‘Hosanna’, which means, “(Lord) Please, Save us.” Hosanna is not only a joyous shout but a cry for deliverance from their socio, political and religious bondage; it is a cry of hope for salvation from their vulnerabilities. The theme, “Hosanna: Lord Save us”, is taken from the Church of South India (CSI) almanac. It is, indeed, ﬁtting in today’s context as the world has been inflicted with the Covid-19 pandemic and other challenges like social, political, religious, and economic oppressions, armed conflicts, border disputes, migrations, racism, and casteism endangering millions of vulnerable people. It is in this context we prepare to welcome Jesus into our towns, churches, and communities. Therefore, as we celebrate Palm Sunday, our joyous shouts of Hosanna must be a cry for
peace in this world of conflicts, a cry for liberation in this society that neglects, alienates, and oppresses the weak and vulnerable, and a cry for spiritual renewal in this world where the religion has been politicised and commercialised.
Hosanna: Lord, save us from the world of war and conflicts (Zechariah 9: 1-12) The world today is wreaked with civil unrests, armed conflicts and military occupations. Countries like Myanmar, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Palestine and Ukraine are some of the examples where the common people are forced to live under constant threats fleeing for their lives and hiding as their homes are destroyed. The book of Zechariah was written during the efforts of the returned Jews to rebuild the temple, which the Babylonians had destroyed. People were living in conditions where there was no peace. Despite the exile ending and people returning to Jerusalem, things were not restored to their original stage. The reminiscences of war and captivity were still a reality. Zechariah prophesied to such a postexilic community to display that the Lord will establish Lord’s kingdom by bringing out judgment upon the aggressive nations and peace in Jerusalem. Despite the nation’s lowly position, a redeemer will bring a time of ultimate blessing of salvation. This salvation will be achieved not by war or conflicts
but by absolute Peace. This coming king is righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey (v. 9, NIV). Zechariah’s promise goes on to say that all the apparatus of war will be removed; Messiah’s rule will not be established by physical force or maintained by military defences. Instead, he will extend this peace to the entire world, teaching the nations to receive his spiritual rule, to unite their differences, to lay aside their arms, and live as one united family.
These people of Jerusalem were also perturbed by the constant hostilities between Romans and the radical groups of Israel, mostly the Zealots. As they were welcoming the Messiah with shouts of Hosanna, it was their inward cry to be saved from the world of war and conflicts and to have a life ﬁlled with peace and salvation. As we welcome Jesus today, it should be our cry too. Hosanna, Lord, save us.
Hosanna: Lord, save us from the Oppressive Structures of the society (St. Luke 19:29-40) Undoubtedly, the Covid 19 has exposed every form of social, political, and economic oppressive systems of our societies. It also revealed how fragile our systems are and how vulnerable our lives are. Nations need righteous governments and transparent social and political order with equal economic opportunities for everyone. This was what the people of Jerusalem were anticipating when they welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem, holding the palm branches. A palm branch in Jewish culture is a symbol of joy and, in Roman culture, a symbol of victory. The early Christians used the palm branches to symbolise the victory of the faithful over evil. Christian martyrs were usually shown holding a palm branch/leaf as a holy attribute, representing the victory of spirit over the flesh. The crowd who welcomed Jesus was well acquainted with Jesus’ words and deeds. They were the people living as colonial prisoners of the Roman Empire. Many of them were being oppressed, alienated and outcasted by the socio-political and religious structures of that day. They were seeking a saviour who, according to their understanding, would bring them political freedom from centuries of foreign oppression and currently from the Roman Empire.
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When they found Jesus to be their messiah, they welcomed Him with shouts of Joy holding the branches of palms which is the symbol of their anticipated victory. Even as we celebrate Palm Sunday today, we shout “Hosanna” joyfully with a hope to be delivered and to be victorious from all forms of oppressive structures that made us vulnerable. Hosanna, Lord, save us.
Hosanna: Lord, Save us from Spiritual Deprivation Today, faith/religion has been extremely politicised as well as commercialised. Religion has been used as a tool for political gain. The growing trends of religious extremist groups and religiously rooted political manifestos are deeply polarising the communities and creating unbridgeable valleys. Such trends, however, are not just in our times, but during the time of Jesus as well. The people who welcomed Jesus were not only his disciples, the villagers from Bethany and the citizens of Jerusalem, there were also many pilgrims who came to the feast from different parts of the Roman Empire and had participated in this procession of welcoming Jesus into Jerusalem. Those were the people who came to worship the Lord in the Temple. But they were utterly disappointed by the religious practices that were made by the so-called religious leaders of that time. Religion was completely materialised.
Access to God was made possible only on the basis of the sacriﬁces and coins that were exchanged and offered in the temple. God already told them that He is not pleased with their sacriﬁces (Isaiah 1:11&12, Jeremiah 7:21). It was almost difﬁcult for a poor family to offer the annual sacriﬁces. The people who welcomed Jesus anticipated that He would come and bring a spiritual renewal by reforming the deﬁled religion and building a spiritual temple. And it should be the expectation of the church that we may be raised from spiritual deprivation and revived in spirit as we celebrate Palm Sunday. Hosanna!!! Lord, save us. Celebrating Palm Sunday is not just about shouting with joy and enthusiasm, but it has something to do with the inward cry of the people who welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem. Their shouts of Hosanna were the shouts of appeal for holistic Salvation. Even as we welcome Jesus into our churches and lives, may His triumphal entry give us Peace in lives ﬁlled with conflicts, deliverance from the oppressive structures, and renewal in spiritual deprivation. As we shout Hosanna, we make our appeal to Him, “Lord, save us”.
Remembering The Broken Body By Rev. TAN An-Wei, The Presbyterian Church of Korea (PCK)
Rev. An-Wei Nehemiah Tan is Chinese by origin, a Korean by birth, a Taiwanese by passport. He obtained his MDiv and ThM in Liturgics and Homiletics at Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary (PUTS). He started an urban ministry called Underwood Ministry, which includes Café Underwood and Chinese-Korean bilingual worship in front of Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea.
he time we currently use to remember the past is part of flowing time. Events can have already passed, but we remember it on anniversary dates. For example, birthdays and the date of losing a loved family are like that. We also remember the past through our action. We sometimes think of memories while walking along the path we walked with our loved ones. The early church community used the device of time to remember Jesus Christ after his ascension. They remembered Jesus in time intervals, such as a day, a week, and a year. In particular, the year spent in memory of the life cycle of Jesus Christ is called the church calendar. The Lent we observe is a 40-day journey starting from Ash Wednesday, and this week is the last week of Lent, Holy Week. In particular, the three days from this evening to Easter are called the Triduum (Triduum Paschale). We meditate on the life of Jesus Christ as he went to the cross every Sunday, starting with Ash Wednesday. Today, Holy Thursday, we proceed to the place of the Passover Supper, which was prepared according to Jewish custom. Jesus Christ did the lowest servant's job at that supper, washing the disciples' feet. Holy Thursday is also called Maundy Thursday. It is speculated that the word Maundy comes from the ﬁrst word of the new commandment (Mandatum novum do vobis). This word can be found in John 13:34 in the Holy Thursday text of the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL). Although the RCL text spans three years in one cycle, the text of Holy Week is the same every year, especially today's text which brings us to the scene where Jesus Christ washes his feet for his disciples (John 1- 17, 31b-35) Jesus Christ knew he had little time left. At the end of his own life, Jesus still loved his people, and he loved them to the end (13:1). Jesus was facing his death. However, he was spending the last hours caring for the vulnerable, his disciples rather than caring for himself. Jesus did the work of a minor servant -washing the dirty feet.
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Is prepared death possible? I started to pray after my father passed away suddenly a few years ago: "God, please let me know before death comes upon me. Let me face it calmly in your grace. And give me enough time to prepare for it." Most of us have never faced our own death. Therefore, there is a limit to looking into the situation of Jesus as a general guess. However, still, it is clear that Jesus was preparing for his death, and in the process, he gave an implication of what he had done during his public life. In addition, through his last hours as a teacher, Jesus still taught his disciples, who had followed him for three years. Despite Peter's refusal saying that the greater one does not wash the feet of the little ones (v6), Jesus washed his disciples' feet. Washing feet is an act of humility and service. Moreover, it is an act of love. Doing this, Jesus told his disciples to wash each other's feet (v14) and asks them to follow his example (v15). Jesus gave his disciples (v33) a new commandment to love one another as He loved them (v34). Why did Jesus give these teachings even in the midst of facing his death, being troubled in his spirit (v21)? Could it be so difﬁcult to obey the new commandment? Is not love voluntarily becoming a little one to serve a neighbour or stranger who does not seem to have anything better than oneself? In the most vulnerable situations of his life, Jesus Christ humbled himself over those more vulnerable than him and served them with Self-Giving Love. He set an example and passed on the love to follow that example.
Christ Washing the Disciples' Feet. National Gallery of Art artwork ID: 118598 - http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/Collection/art-object-page.118598.html
Washing feet is a symbolic act. However, humility, service, and love begin to be practiced through such act. Jesus showed his disciples how to begin. Moreover, he was on his way to perfection. Washing feet is usually done before a meal, but Jesus got up and washed their feet while having the meal (v4). Now the real meal begins, during which, Jesus gave thanks for the bread and wine and gave them a new meaning. The bread was the body of Jesus, and the cup was His blood. It is the bread of life and the cup of salvation, given “for you and for many,” that is, for the disciples and the people of the world. He moved from the lowest place where he had washed the disciples' feet, and as the owner of the table, he distributed food to the disciples. And he proclaimed the gospel, the ultimate goal of his life and teaching. Jesus chose to break himself down for service of others rather than raising from his vulnerable state. The shattered body was divided and passed on to the vulnerable disciples and to us through the 2000-year history. Then, Jesus got up from his seat and went up to the mountain. Jesus' body was shattered and torn little by little with every step, and on the highest mountain, he shows us the perfection of his service of love. On a high mountain, we will see the saviour of the world hung on the wood of the cross (Ecce lignum crucis, in quo salus mundi pependit), who’s love that will save even the most vulnerable souls of the lowest.
Love Cruciﬁed By Rev. Julie Sim, Mission Secretary – East Asia and South Asia, Council for World Mission (CWM)
ne song that has often gripped my heart is this: “Were you there?” It has three stanzas that describe the cruciﬁxion, the death and the burial of Jesus. Each stanza guides and helps worshippers remember the excruciating pain and suffering of Jesus on the cross: Were you there when they cruciﬁed my Lord? Were you there when they nailed him to the tree? Were you there when they laid him in the tomb? The words of the song aptly describe the whole mood of Good Friday. It causes us to pause and wonder at the great love of God for all people. – Love cruciﬁed. Today we are invited back to remember the ﬁnal moments as Jesus breathes his last. We let the words of the scriptures grip our hearts and evoke our emotions as we ponder at Jesus’ last moments– that lonely, tortured ﬁgure on the cross, nails through hands and feet, back lacerated, lips dry, throat parched, brow bleeding from thorn-pricks, shunned and forsaken for our sake. – Love cruciﬁed. On the cross, Jesus laid aside his immunity to pain and suffering. Jesus entered our world of flesh and blood, tears and pain. Psalm 22 ends with a Hebrew verb that has no object ‘ā-sāh “he has done” which can also be translated as “it is ﬁnished”. Jesus came to give himself to us, for us. And he did not stop giving until “It is ﬁnished.” – Love cruciﬁed.
Let us remember Jesus
who did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage. (silence of remembrance) May we ever be grateful for Jesus and what He has done for us!
Let us remember Jesus
who prayed for the forgiveness of those who denied, rejected and cruciﬁed Him. (silence of remembrance) May we ever be grateful for Jesus and what He has done for us!
Let us remember Jesus
who humbled Himself, made Himself nothing by becoming obedient to death. (silence of remembrance) May we ever be grateful for Jesus and what He has done and continues to do for us!
Prayer We pray for peace, justice and reconciliation for all innocent victims in war-torn countries in the world. May God’s peace be a source of strength and comfort for all persons when they experience the painful moments. May God bring hope and restoration to our human family and that all violence, conflicts and destruction be brought to a just end. Amen.
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Easter Devotional By Rev Lydia Neshangwe, CWM Moderator
2 Kings 4:1-7
here is a popular story of the miracle of the widow’s oil. This Old Testament story can help us draw parallels with another popular story, the Easter story. The “widow” represents the many people with no protector or provider, either temporarily or as a permanent state - the people who are exposed, feeling vulnerable inside, and vulnerable outside. Vulnerable to abuse and mockery. These are the people at the bottom of their emotional resources, or governed by unjust forces, or ruled by unreasonable laws. This, in the Easter story, is at the heart of what it was like when Christ died and was rendered to the grave. It is a state of darkness and hopelessness. The “creditor” represents the masters trying to take control of our lives, hearts, and minds. They are the powerful, the strong, and the mighty. They come in many forms: physical, emotional, or spiritual masters that come to “kill, steal and destroy” and put us in bondage to a life of fear and anxiety. Then we are left with no defender, no rescuer, and no supporter. It is a state of being reduced to having “nothing” as the widow described of her situation. This, in the Easter story, is what appeared to be the victory of Satan over Jesus upon the death of Jesus. The “prophet” Elisha represents a necessary and alternative power that is available to us, from which we can learn three important things: Firstly, the power of the “little.” When asked what she had, the widow replied that she had “a little oil.” We need to help people see that they don’t have “a little.” A “little” faith, which Jesus says may be as small as a mustard seed, can produce amazingly large results. We need to help people stop focusing on the tomb time and look forward to more that God is capable of doing through what they already have.
Second is the power of obedient action. The widow obediently acted and collected empty jars from her neighbours. By collecting the jars from them she was leaving them curious or having a kind of expectation of something to happen. We need to stop spreading words of hopelessness, negativity, and cynicism around us. We need to be different from the media otherwise we will produce more of the same and we will reap what we sow. We have to be so counter-cultural that, like the widow, we go around doing strange acts of obedience – collecting good news, raising faith-based expectations, bringing together the potential in our contexts, and highlighting the positive message that it’s not over until God steps in. And thirdly, the power of working behind the scenes. The widow was instructed to “go inside and shut the door.” In the Easter story, when Jesus died and was buried, it meant a period of waiting behind the scenes. But it is not a meaningless or useless wait. It is a waiting that allows God to download the resurrection of the situation. It is what I call a ‘sacred hibernation’ where you stop focusing on yourself and your capabilities, and allow God to kill your love of publicity, recognition, power, ego, and love of reputation. The power is in allowing God’s power to take over the situation so that there is less of me and more of God. The Easter story ends dramatically with God transforming death into resurrection, defeat into victory. And when the resurrection happens, it is always better than our human solutions. It is like the abundant oil that ﬁlls all the jars of the whole neighbourhood. It is like the anointing oil that the Psalmist says, “He anoints my head with oil; my cup overflows.” And then we are resurrection people because we have experienced God’s resurrection of dead situations.
CELEBRATING INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2022 Theme: Women - Breaking Chains, Nurturing Communities and Planting Seeds of Hope The Council for World Mission Caribbean and Europe Regions Europe will be hosting a Zoom event on International Women’s Day, 8 March, 11:30 a.m. Jamaica time/4:30 p.m. UK time as they join with churches and communities worldwide to celebrate the strides made by women in church ministry – in pews and pulpits, classrooms, and centres of care and nurture. Women are the backbone of their churches and societies, playing a signiﬁcant role in the survival and nurturing of their families, communities and building up the Christian church. They are agents of healing providing food, shelter, hospitality, health care, comfort and avenues for peace and reconciliation. Despite the arduous work of women in contributing to the essentials to life, including building up the community of believers, they are often denied full humanity in church and society. Gender injustices remain a challenge in church and society. This virtual event themed "Women - Breaking Chains, Nurturing Communities and Planting Seeds of Hope" will celebrate women in leadership and highlight pioneering work of women in the ordained ministry in the Caribbean. Women from the Caribbean, Europe and Africa will share their struggles and vision for a transformed church and ecumenical movement, where justice and partnership will flourish and be a positive influence and understanding of being church today in these challenging times of – the COVID-19 pandemic and gender, racial, caste, tribe, economic, and climate injustices. The event will be the highlight of a journey for gender justice and partnership which includes research on women in leadership in Caribbean churches, and liturgical and Bible study resources to celebrate International Women’s Day in church services on March 6, 2022. Join us in a time of worship, songs, poetry, and our highlight - a table talk - on 11:30 a.m. Jamaica time/12:30 p.m. Guyana time/4:30 p.m. UK time. https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85107121476?pwd=N3VzaUhLU3luLzlxSTRJQ3B1VFRtZz09& Zoom Meeting ID 851 0712 1476 Passcode CWM-IWD
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AT A GLANCE
Re-envisioning Ecumenism in a Pandemic-Stricken World
eneral Secretary of CWM, Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum, called the Global Christian Leaders to re-envision the ecumenism. Invited by the Global Christian Forum (GCF) for its Facilitation Group Meeting, Rev. Dr Keum gave a stimulating message challenging the members to discern ways to re-envision Ecumenism in this pandemic-stricken world. The GCF is a global forum of Christian leaders from different traditions, regions, cultures, and nations. Proposed by the 8th General Assembly of the WCC in 1998 in Harare, GCF came into existence, after numerous consultations and a reflection process, to bring various church traditions, especially the Evangelicals, Pentecostals, and Catholics, together with the member Churches of WCC. The leaders from a wide spectrum of churches and organisations meet on equal ground and mutual respect to address together the common challenges for the unity of the global churches. As part of the preparations for conceptualising the framework for the forthcoming Global Forum in 2024, they gathered in a hybrid meeting from 5-9 February 2022 at Domus Romana Sacerdotalis, Rome, Italy. In his speech, during the opening session, Dr Keum expressed his concern on the social, political, and economic injustices unveiled by the Covid-19 global pandemic. He also highlighted the systemic greed of humans that not only is exploiting the lives of vulnerable people but also destroying the environment. He said, “The Covid-19 pandemic is neither a natural nor accidental disaster. It is a human-made ecological disaster due to the genocide of eco-diversity and human invasion of the homes of wild animals.” In this pandemic-stricken world, with internal challenges within the ecumenical movement, he called upon the members to reimagine a transformative ecumenism by dismantling the structures that serve only the privileged, receiving the Holy Spirit, rediscovering the faith at the margins, and defeating the culture of hatred by the power of love. He further highlighted that such transformation requires the change of the location in the Ecumenical Movement. He said, “Re-envisioning Ecumenism requires a shift of location – in hermeneutical as well as in geographical terms: from the board rooms to the streets and from dogma to life. Life and lives matter, therefore re-envisioning ecumenism is a calling towards a celebration of life in its fullness with people in the concrete contexts and communities.” As he closed his speech, he suggested the following seven directions for future ecumenism: Status confessionis on climate change and ecological justice Developing economy of life instead of the worship of mammon Re-imaging ecumenism as a movement from the margins beyond institutionalism Nurturing a spirituality of the interconnectedness of life and solidarity of hope Fostering partnerships and exploring the theologies among the vulnerable Shifting the centre of ecumenism from the euro-centric to world Christianity Promoting ecumenical leadership based on faith values, not ecclesial politics. After the presentation, the members engaged in a question-and-answer session. Rev. Dr Casley Essamuah, the General Secretary of the GCF, and other members expressed their gratitude to Dr Keum while afﬁrming that his speech will help discern the way forward and conceptualise the framework for the global gathering in 2024. 18 INSiGHT MARCH 2022
CWM Caribbean Region’s ﬁrst issue of
CWM Caribbean Region has released the ﬁrst issue of its bi-monthly newsletter, Caribbean Buzz for 2022. This January-February issue focuses on gender justice, ahead of their online event on March 8 to commemorate the United Nations’ International Women’s Day. It includes a theme reflection by Rev. Dr Janet Wootton from Congregational Federation (CF) on how women can “rise to life” in the midst of GBV, a mission story on Guyana Congregational Union (GCU)’s newly dedicated Quamina House Complex, and more. View at
MEMBER CHURCH NEWS EAST ASIA Hong Kong Council of the Church of Christ in China (HKCCCC) General Secretary’s Message
Image of HKCCCC GS via YouTube
In today’s digital age, we receive a massive volume of information transmitted instantly to our phones, be it critical world news, or ordinary video clips of everyday life from our relatives and friends. The vast amount of information delivered instantaneously to mobile phones has inevitably shaped perceptions of current social situations, even for Christians, said Hong Kong Council of the Church of Christ in China (HKCCCC) General Secretary Rev. Wong Ka Fai in his recent message. Rev. Wong cautioned that unless Christians are willing to make time daily for diligent Bible study and focused prayer, their understanding and perception of what is happening in the society will also be heavily influenced by the direction of the world. Starting from the new church year, all HKCCCC pastors and missionaries have begun following a daily lectionary, sharing
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information and their reflections on Bible passages in video format. It is hoped that HKCCCC church members, ministry workers and afﬁliated school teachers and students will watch, be enlightened by, and share these videos: https://www.youtube.com/c hannel/UCD5lONE6N4QHSV CaRXLHC2A Visit https://www.hkcccc.org/202 2/1979/ for more information.
HKCCCC provides advice to churches on dealing with tightened anti-epidemic measures With the country battling a record COVID-19 surge, the HK government has tightened anti-epidemic measures including the population to undergo three rounds of coronavirus testing. In line with the latest developments, HKCCCC has provided advice on the guidelines applicable to churches at: https://www.hkcccc.org/202 2/2303/
SOUTH ASIA Church of South India (CSI) General Secretary’s Message Church of South India (CSI) General Secretary C. Fernandas Rathina Raja has exhorted church members to work towards unity and compassion in his message in a recent issue of CSI Life. In the editorial, he wrote about moving forward towards a fuller communion of faith and love, with respect for legitimate theological and liturgical variety.
Image via CSI Life
Emphasising the need for unity and the need to commit themselves to work tirelessly for it, he said: “Our ability to initiate steps to build unity depends on one’s witness and its fruitfulness. We should ﬁnd areas of unity and initiate sincere efforts to translate them into actions, especially for the vulnerable.” The CSI General Secretary also called on them to be compassionate and have empathy on others and their needs, recalling the occasions when they needed compassion from others. Knowing that compassion is woven into
the fabric of Christianity and that the Lord’s heart is for those in need, he urged them to re-commit themselves to be His instruments in alleviating the pain of those in distress.
EUROPE Churches and mosques launch new programme of local conversations
Online kids chapel by CSI South Kerala Diocese Image by URC
Image by CSI
Image courtesy of CSI
CSI Kerala Diocese launched a new online worship platform for children last year, inaugurated by the Most Rev. A. Dharmaraj Rasalam, Bishop in South Kerala Diocese. This initiative by the Board for Christian Education in South Kerala Diocese uses child-friendly liturgy to provide a spiritual learning experience for children unable to attend Sunday School during the pandemic, and can viewed on their YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/c hannel/UCTRJcbPBSVZbnP P0fGboEfQ
Congregational members from Banstead United Reformed Church (URC) in Surrey and the Muslim Cultural & Welfare Association of Sutton gathered for an open Q&A to learn more about each other’s faith. In Darwen, Lancashire, churches and mosques partnered to offer food and furniture for refugees and asylum seekers in the town. These were practical outcomes arising from a scheme that brings together churches from various denominations and mosques to meet and share conversations in their local settings. Following a successful digital pilot programme last year, a group of churches and mosques have announced a new phase of dialogue. Members of churches and mosques which have not attempted such an interfaith encounter are encouraged to volunteer for the new programme, to take the ﬁrst step to meet and learn more about each other’s faith and practices.
For instance, topics of exchange from last year’s Zoom conversations included lessons learnt from living through a global pandemic, comparing religious festivals and developing more local co-operation. URC’s Interfaith Secretary, Rev. Philip Brooks said of this new phase of dialogue: “We believe that by encouraging local mosques and churches to meet with one another, it is not only beneﬁcial in terms of mutual understanding, but it also offers greater potential to extend the support that faith communities are so good at providing to their local communities.”
Hot meals for school children in Madagascar
A catastrophic food crisis in Southern Madagascar which faced its worst drought in 40 years, has pushed over a million people to starvation. Since September 2020, Madagascar has been trapped in the worst drought it has experienced in 40 years.
Money for Madagascar (MfM), the UK-based charity that administers the money raised by the Union of Welsh Independents (UWI) for the Madagascar Appeal, recently managed to secure funding to supply hot meals for children in several schools in Madagascar. This scheme will include two of the projects supported by the UWI’s Madagascar Appeal. During its Bicentenary Appeal 2018-2019, UWI had raised over £156,000 to support several projects in Madagascar, an island where two Welsh missionaries were sent by the London Missionary Society (LMS) over 200 years ago. To date, MfM has delivered over £20,000, and is seeking famine aid to continue providing nutritious meals daily to all 650 children in 2 primary schools in Amboasary Sud. For more information and to donate, please visit https://moneyformadagasc ar.org/famine-appeal/ MfM’s famine feeding programme is run in partnership with ALT MG (Andry Lalana Toahana), a reputable Malagasy NGO who has run food security, education and emergency feeding projects in the South for over a decade.
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A Warm Welcome By Annalyn Davies Annalyn Davies is a retired headteacher, a member of a small rural congregational church and also its secretary. She is also a lay preacher, and considers it a privilege to be appointed as Community Ofﬁcer for the Tŷ Croeso project which is located at Bethlehem Newydd Chapel, Pwlltrap, St Clears.
xciting things are happening in rural areas in Wales, aimed at strengthening small communities and raising up the most vulnerable in society. Here is the story of one such venture. I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself and to share with you details of an exciting project that is commencing in the community of St Clears, Carmarthenshire, west Wales. Following the restrictions imposed by lockdown in 2021, we realised that the ministry provided by our church needed to change and that it was necessary to reach out and make a concerted effort to invite people into a welcoming community within the chapel. Charitable work was already in place, but this needed to be increased by offering help locally to those in need, alongside supporting the work of charitable organisations such as Christian Aid. Also, we could see that the traditional format for worship needed adapting in order to try to meet the expectations of our modern-day society. Following numerous discussions, an action plan was drawn up and was fully supported by the chapel members. A community ofﬁcer was appointed, namely myself, in order to raise awareness of the project locally, to coordinate the work and to liaise with members of the community. We are aware of the need to be inclusive and the installation of modern technology will allow us to do so. The new facility supports the services and allows them to be live streamed to people’s homes if they are unable to attend church. The adoption of modern equipment is also useful for when it is used as a venue for community organisations as it can now offer
broadband, a new sound system, monitors for display and a camera to record services or concerts. When the appropriate permission is granted, the ground floor will be transformed by removing the existing pews and replacing them with comfortable chairs. There will be a kitchen intended for inviting the community into a welcoming and comfortable environment where they will be able to have a chat and refreshments. It is our plan to set up a drop-in facility that is dementia friendly, and we will ensure that it will be seen as a place that is accessible to everyone. It is hoped that organisations will make use of the building whilst ensuring that its main purpose continues to be a place of worship. In the time leading up to Christmas, two very successful appeals were launched by Tŷ Croeso. The ﬁrst was the collecting of toiletries for the local Women’s Refuge. The chapel was opened to the public for two hours on four consecutive Saturdays and the community was invited to come along and to donate. The response was overwhelming. The second appeal was to collect food for the Local Food Bank which supports the St Clears area and the neighbouring villages. Again, the response was overwhelming. Money was also donated, and a further collection of washing powder was made when it was discovered that it was in short supply. The weeks leading up to Christmas turned out to be extremely busy for the Food Bank providing nearly 400 meals for the local community. 35 people came to the local Town Hall in order to have Christmas lunch provided by volunteers. A
representative from the Food Bank said that they would not have been able to provide this service were it not for the generosity of the local community. Certainly ,nothing would have been accomplished were it not for their compassion and commitment. The project’s name is Tŷ Croeso (which translates as House of Welcome) and I am extremely proud to be part of this work at such an exciting time. The Union of Welsh Independents (UWI) had made grants available within their Innovation and Investment programme in order to support such work, and a successful application enabled the appointment of a community ofﬁcer whilst all other work will be funded by the chapel itself. We are most grateful for this funding as it has enabled us to begin to realise our vision so that we can look forward to the future conﬁdently. It is our belief that we have been given an excellent opportunity to strengthen the local ministry whilst making an important contribution to the community. With everyone’s cooperation, we will succeed to make a difference, spreading the Word whilst taking action in order to create change and demonstrating our faith at work.
‘Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good.’ Hebrews 10: 24
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Without Vulnerability, There Is No Love Toward A Cosmo-Theological Beauty of Being Vulnerable By Rev. Parulihan Sipayung, Gereja Kristen Protestan Simalungun (GKPS), Indonesia
Rev. Parulihan Sipayung is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in World Christianity and Intercultural (Mission) at Yonsei University-Global Institute of Theology (GIT), Korea. He is an ordained Pastor at Gereja Kristen Protestan Simalungun (GKPS), Indonesia. He worked as a missionary in Korea from 2016 to 2021. His research interests include the intersection between postcolonial theology, Public/Planetary theology, Asian and African philosophy, Simalungun studies, ecological studies, and indigenous wisdom. He can be contacted at email@example.com and https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3916-8161
Problems of Vulnerability
n the context of postmodern competition, there is an assumption that being an ideal person means being successful, advanced, strong, healthy, winning, and perfect. Vulnerability is often considered weaknesses and needs to be repaired, corrected, restored, and normalised. Vulnerability also refers to a social burden such as the elderly group, the children, the sick, the victims, and the poor.1 Some scholars associate vulnerability with disability. The assumption is: someone is vulnerable because he/she is disabled or his/her status as disabled makes him/her vulnerable. Medically, and this deﬁnition also seems to be adopted by the community and the church, disabled or vulnerable are considered as fragile, weak, imperfect, defective, and need medical and social help. This statement needs to be reconsidered. The argument of this article is neither to romanticise nor to idealise the condition of vulnerability but to respect and transform the paradigm about it. This article aims to explore the beauty of vulnerability. It argues that vulnerability is the nature of all creations. It is also the working background of philosophy and theology. Even God chooses to be vulnerable. If so, the vulnerable must have some important philosophical-theological lessons, ‘a cosmic beauty’, that may change the paradigm of the church and society.
Vulnerability: The Essence of Life Vulnerability and fragility are the fundamental essence of life. According to Sturla J. Stlsett, every human being is always vulnerable, he even emphasized “if a human being could be invulnerable, it would be inhuman”.2 Vulnerability comes from the Latin vulnerare which simply means to injure or harm. It illustrates human’s fragility to suffering. For Sturla, vulnerability could be articulated as “the ability to be corporeally, mentally, emotionally, and existentially affected by the presence, being, or acting of another or something other - It means openness, relatedness, mutability, and communicability.”3 In this vulnerable earth, everything that lives will die. Whenever life begins, the shadow of death rushes in. The growth process can also be comprehended as a process of aging, weakening and ending in death. In all living beings there are limitations both in time, being, and becoming. No creature is self-sufﬁcient so that it can live alone. Human life changes rapidly, uncertainly, ambiguously, complex and prone to various unexpected things. Moreover in the current pandemic catastrophe, conditions of illness and death can occur at any time. Even though humans have capability of being resilient, intellectual imperfection, existential limitations, and scope that are bound by space and time create this vulnerability inevitably inescapable.4 So, it is not an exaggeration if I claim vulnerability is the essence of life.
Sturla J. Stlsett, “Towards a Political Theology of Vulnerability Anthropological and Theological Propositions.” Political Theology 16 (2015): 467.
Sturla J. Stlsett, “Towards a Political Theology of Vulnerability, 467-8.
Sturla J. Stlsett, “Towards a Political Theology of Vulnerability, 467.
Matthew R. McLennan argues “They are limited in at least three basic ways. First, they are logically limited, since not all human possibilities are compossible (i.e. possible together). Second, my existential possibilities are limited in time because humans are mortal and there are hard limits to human longevity. And ﬁnally, they are limited in scope because human lives and endeavours proceed from a place of situatedness, partiality and variously limited and fluctuating capacities.” See, Matthew R. McLennan, Philosophy and Vulnerability: Catherine Breillat, Joan Didion, and Audre Lorde (London; New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2020). Kindle chapter 1 - see the ﬁrst chapter 1-32.
As stated above, vulnerability is also often equated with disability with negative nuances. However, Thomas E. Reynolds argues, “vulnerability, or lack of ability is not a flaw detracting from an otherwise pure and complete human nature. Rather, it is testimony to the fact that our nature involves receiving our existence from each other.”5 In line with Reynolds, Sturla afﬁrmed “vulnerability is intrinsically good, and could be a cause to joy. The vulnerability of human beings should be seen, promoted, and protected as a value.”6 For Sturla with this vulnerable character we are invited into “a responsible relationship: that the vulnerable person be recognised, taken into account, cared for, respected, loved, and protected.”7
Vulnerability: The Background of Philosophy and Theology One of the reasons why philosophising, according to Jean F. Lyotard, is because of vulnerability.
McLennan also argues that “vulnerability is in the background of disciplinary philosophical activity.”9 For McLennan philosophy should not only be limited to opinions, world views and systems of thoughts but also in daily activities. He emphasizes “philosophy, in short, happens when human ﬁnitude obstinately and self-consciously risks reaching beyond itself.”10 Chuang Tzu asserts, “Our life has a boundary but there is no boundary to knowledge. To use what has a boundary to pursue what is limitless is dangerous; with this knowledge, if we still go after knowledge, we will run into trouble’11 Synthesizing the above ideas McLennan concludes “Philosophy is a self-conscious activity of ﬁnitude reaching beyond itself, through itself; ﬁnitude describes or encompasses human vulnerability. Thus, philosophy is inherently tied, in some way, to vulnerability; it is, in one sense, an activity of vulnerable beings, labouring in and through their vulnerability.”12 This philosophical image is inseparable from the theological posture. Of course, theology is also born out of vulnerability. Theology is vulnerable because it cannot be universal.13 It is also limited to describing God. It is impossible for the limited to elucidate the unlimited transcendence. Prayer, worship, grace, the cross, and the search for the face and will of God are characteristics of human vulnerability. Acknowledging this limitation theologians thus formulate what we call as apophatic theology. Theology is indeed born of vulnerability and longing for God's favour. So does vulnerable human being who was created from God's image and likeness also imply the character of a vulnerable God?
“why we philosophise: because there is desire, because there is absence in presence, deadness in life; and also because there is power that is not yet power; and also because there is alienation, the loss of what we thought we had acquired and the gap between the deed and the doing, between the said and the saying; and ﬁnally because we cannot evade this: testifying to the presence of the lack with our speech.” 8 For Lyotard phenomena such as death, power but not really power (because it remains limited), marginalisation, loss, and conditions of deprivation are life events born of vulnerability. 5
Thomas E. Reynolds, Vulnerable Communion: A Theology of Disability and Hospitality, 1st edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2008), 106.
Sturla J. Stlsett, “Towards a Political Theology of Vulnerability, 467.
Sturla J. Stlsett, “Towards a Political Theology of Vulnerability, 467.
Jean F. Lyotard, Why Philosophize? trans. A. Brown (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2013), 123.
Matthew R. McLennan, Philosophy and Vulnerability, kindle, see the ﬁrst chapter 1-32.
Matthew R. McLennan, Philosophy and Vulnerability, kindle, see the ﬁrst chapter 1-32.
Chuang Tzu, The Book of Chuang Tzu, trans. M. Palmer with E. Breuilly, Chang Wai Ming and J. Ramsay (London: Penguin Books, 2006), 22.
Matthew R. McLennan, Philosophy and Vulnerability, kindle, see the ﬁrst chapter 1-32.
See Stephen B. Bevans, Models of Contextual Theology, (Maryknoll, N.Y: Orbis Books, 2002). Sigurd Bergmann and Mika Vähäkangas, eds., Contextual Theology, 1st edition (Abingdon, Oxon ; New York, NY: Routledge, 2020). Angie Pears, Doing Contextual Theology, 1st edition (London ; New York: Routledge, 2009).
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God Chooses to be Vulnerable There are two images of God that are generally understood by Christian theology. First, God is perfect: omnipresence, omniscience and omnipotence. Only God who is so powerful is able to create and organise this world. Sturla explained that “mainstream doctrinal Christianity confesses God as immutable and impassible— hence invulnerable.”14 This idea is possibly rooted in Greek philosophy. Plato said “god and his attributes are in every way perfect …., it is also impossible for god to have any desire to change himself, …, each of this gods, it appears, is as beautiful and good as possible and remain forever simply in his own form”15 This idea explains that God cannot be affected by emotions, cannot possibly be hurt and suffer and be wounded. Aristotle, a Plato’s student, also described God as “eternally unchanged changer” or often referred to as “unmoved mover”.16 This idea seems to have been embraced by church fathers like Augustine who adored God as: “most high, most good, most powerful, most omnipotent, most beautiful … changeless”17 and Thomas Aquinas who argued “God is altogether immutable.”18 These images of God were also widely employed in the context of Christendom.
This concept needs to be reconstructed to show that God is also empathetic and stands on the side of the weak and vulnerable. He is a God of Immanuel. God who incarnates and becomes vulnerable. God who possibly feels hunger, thirst, hurt, cries, and shares with the suffering people. William C. Placher elucidates that the God that Christianity describes in Jesus Christ looks different. God is vulnerable.19 Lenardo Boff afﬁrms that God in Jesus is a God who “weak in power but strong in love”.20 Choan Seng Song in his classic book, the Compassionate God, asserts that the hallmark of the Asians’ and Africans’ God is compassion. God does not sit on a throne but dwells with the people. God also dances and laughs, cries and mourns with the people accompanied by rites where people dance and the traditional drum beats vibrantly.21 Compassion means to undergo, feel, or ‘suffer with’ another. Reynolds emphasizes that the word “with” is crucially important. Suffer with another afﬁrms a participative connection. It shows a deep empathy. Reynolds argues that compassion strongly means “It does not hide or flee from suffering but shares it— respecting and afﬁrming the vulnerable presence of another enough to abide with them faithfully so that they are not alone.”22 This is the kenotic message of the incarnation and culminates in the suffering of Christ on the cross.
Sturla J. Stlsett, “Towards a Political Theology of Vulnerability, 472.
G. R. F. Ferrari, ed., Plato the Republic, trans. Tom Grifﬁth, Tenth edition (Cambridge ; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 67.
R. Michael Olson, “Aristotle on God: Divine Nous as Unmoved Mover” In Jeanine Diller., Asa Kasher. (eds). Models of God and Alternative Ultimate Realities (New York: Springer, 2013),101-109. See more on, Aristotle and John H. McMahin,
Saint Augustine (of Hippo), The Confessions of S. Augustine: Ten Books (Longmans, Green, 1890), 4.
See also Thomas’ Summa Theologiae Prima pars: q. 9 Article 1, Thomas used Malachi 3:6, ‘‘I am the Lord, and I change not’’ to justify that God is immutable.
William C. Placher, Narratives of a Vulnerable God: Christ, Theology, and Scripture (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1994), 19.
Leonardo Boff, Jesus Christ Liberator: A Critical Christology for Our Times, Trans. Patrick Hughes (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1978) 27.
Choan-Seng Song, The Compassionate God (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1982). This book is translated in Indonesia entitle, Allah Yang Turut Menderita, Stephen Suleman trans. (Jakarta: BPK GM, 2008), 35.
Thomas E. Reynolds, Vulnerable Communion, 125.
The Metaphysics (Buffalo, N.Y: Prometheus, 1991).
27 www.cwmission.org 23
Without Vulnerability, There Is No Love: A Cosmo-Theological Beauty of Being Vulnerable Vulnerability deconstructs the concept of supremacy, superiority and individualism that are widespread in the west. We are imperfect, vulnerable and self-sufﬁcient to nothing. Vulnerability makes us possibly opened, touched, and related to others. This condition prepares love possible to emerge. It is one of the beauties of being vulnerable. According to Reynolds, “Love is the moral heart of human existence”.23 He adds “It is not out of sufﬁciency but in relationship with the presence of another that love is born.”24 Reynolds elucidates “Love introduces vulnerable connection, solidarity, and reciprocal belonging.”25 An inclusive and vulnerable love is the core message of Christianity, is not it? (Matt. 22:37-40; 1 John 4:7-8) Juergen Moltmann argues that God continuously presents and participates in human history. God is the God who also suffers because of the suffering of the people.26 God loves the world and became vulnerable and died for the world not because the world and human were perfect. Precisely, even when we are vulnerable, God's love is abundance (Rm. 5:8). C. S. Lewis argues “There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable.”27 This is what God really do for this world as in the words of Terence E. Fretheim, “God suffers because, with, and for, or on behalf of, the people.”28 Daniel C. Migliore suggests that this kind of love carries a “strange power.”29 It is a theo-philosophical “secret power because it radiates with divine plenitude, a surplus of love that ruptures conventional categories of instrumental value.”30 Another cosmic-beauty of being vulnerable is solidarity. Cooreman-Guittin and Thiel write a powerful statement in their book, “If human beings have survived so many cataclysms over millions of years, it is not because they are so powerful, but because they know how to adapt and be in solidarity with the most vulnerable.”31 Solidarity has long been the core message of Christianity. In the context of the current pandemic, we also hope that solidarity can become the principle of society and nations. In solidarity there is a message of togetherness. Solidarity encourages people to share their burdens, be present and abide with the vulnerable
and leave not the vulnerable alone. Jean Vanier elucidates that by being together and being in solidarity with the vulnerable we relearn aprofound moral lesson.32 Reynolds argues that we are not ready-made. We are incomplete and unﬁnished beings. We are vulnerable so we need to live together.33 He emphasizes “solidarity with the vulnerable is the beginning of a moral conversion”.34 Vulnerability changes the way we see the world. Solidarity is one of our basic needs. Stanley Hauerwas asserts that solidarity requires “cooperation and love of others from which derives our ability not only to live but to flourish.”35 By seeing how vulnerability can become a signiﬁcant meeting point for God, creation, humans, and love, we can also see how the pandemic has boldly proven our fragile nature. The concept of “nobody is safe until everybody is safe” is a call for solidarity with the most vulnerable. Love and solidarity contain profound beauty. In love and solidarity we build relation. We maintain a genuine communion, we connect with each other. We collaborate and cooperate to survive. We come to realise, no matter how powerful we are, we cannot live without the other. Human and creations are vulnerable event God chooses to be vulnerable. It means we are the cosmic family of interconnected vulnerable creation. We carry a kind of shared-vulnerability. An inter-being vulnerability where humans’ vulnerability connects with cosmic vulnerability and both vulnerabilities are embraced and transformed by God’s voluntary vulnerability. Here we can afﬁrm “when I am weak – vulnerable - , then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10). This is strange yet powerful moreover this is the cosmic-theological beauty of being vulnerable.
Thomas E. Reynolds, Vulnerable Communion, 122.
Thomas E. Reynolds, Vulnerable Communion, 121.
Thomas E. Reynolds, Vulnerable Communion, 121.
Jürgen Moltmann, The Cruciﬁed God: The Cross of Christ as the Foundation and Criticism of Christian Theology, trans. R. A. Wilson and John Bowden (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1974), 253. Moltmann emphasizes “one who cannot suffer cannot love either”.
Thomas E. Reynolds, Vulnerable Communion, 121.
Terence E. Fretheim, The Suffering of God: An Old Testament Perspective (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984), 108.
Daniel L. Migliore, Faith Seeking Understanding (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991), 52.
Thomas E. Reynolds, Vulnerable Communion, 173.
Marie-Jo Thiel and Talitha Cooreman-Guittin, La vulnérabilité au prisme du monde technologique - enjeux éthiques (Strasbourg: PU STRASBOURG, 2020), 253.
Jean Vanier argues that vulnerability and disability “have profound lessons to teach us.”Jean Vanier, Becoming Human (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1998), 45.
Thomas E. Reynolds, Vulnerable Communion, 117.
Thomas E. Reynolds, Vulnerable Communion, 117.
Stanley Hauerwas, “Suffering the Retarded: Should We Prevent Retardation?” in Critical Reflections on Stanley Hauerwas’ Theology of Disability: Disabling Society, Enabling Theology, ed. John Swinton (Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press, 2004), 97.
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WE ARE RESILIENT PEOPLE Vulnerability in the Context of the Paciﬁc
By Rev. Sepiuta Hala’api’api, Diocesan Secretary and Registrar for the Anglican Diocese of Polynesia Born to Tongan missionary parents and raised in Fiji, Rev. Sepiuta Hala’api’api is one of the few young women in ordained ministry. Prior to her current role as the Diocesan Secretary and Registrar for the Anglican Diocese of Polynesia, she served as the Diocesan Youth Director for her Diocese, as well as worked with the World Council of Churches’ Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA). She is passionate about preaching, music, and caring for God’s Creation. She also loves to travel.
Paciﬁc Climate Warriors
ach day of our journey, as individuals, and as a community, we face vulnerabilities – whereby we are exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally. There are different types of vulnerability, which includes social, cognitive, environmental, emotional or military. Since early 2020, two years ago, the Paciﬁc region – Oceania, has been exposed to the global pandemic, The Coronavirus (Covid-19) and its variants. To date, only two island nations, atolls, remain with no recorded Covid-19 cases – Nauru and Tuvalu. However, even before the global pandemic came about, our island nations in the Paciﬁc region, has been dealing with an even bigger, longstanding challenge – the environmental challenge of Global Warming – an environmental vulnerability. Our Paciﬁc Islands are extremely vulnerable to climate change. The most substantial impacts of climate change include losses of coastal infrastructure and land, more intense cyclones and droughts, failure of subsistence crops and coastal ﬁsheries, losses of coral reefs and mangroves, changing and unpredictable seasonal patterns, and the spread of certain diseases. The Cyclone season in Fiji, ranges from mid-October to mid-April every year. Due to the changing climate conditions, we have experienced more intense tropical cyclones during this period. Growing up, I only knew a tropical cyclone by the name it was given. Ever since Tropical Cyclone rampaged Fiji in February 2016, we have become familiar with the different categories of cyclones, the higher the category, the more intense and destructive, the cyclone. Due to the more frequent tropical cyclones, we have had to experience the changing seasonal patterns of crops and fruits locally grown. Due to the frequent tropical cyclones, our islands suffer from consistent clean drinking water and power supply. Due to the tropical cyclones, we are vulnerable.
But in the midst of our vulnerabilities, our people in Fiji learnt a lot of lessons.
We are Resilient people
In the midst of our vulnerability, we have been able to adapt and adapt to changes in our way of living. Whilst being vulnerable to the changing weather patterns due to Global Warming, communities now have adapted changes such as a change in lifestyle, a change in the farming methods, a change in how we build and rebuild our homes, a change in how we deal with new diseases.
Prevention is better than Cure
This famous quote is one of few that best reflects our context in situations of challenge and vulnerability. Whilst many focus on the post-disaster and how to rebuild what has been lost, physically, mentally, spiritually, through the years we have learnt to prepare ourselves better; being better prepared to face a cyclone, a flood, a drought, etc.
We are interconnected
When one part of our paciﬁc islands suffers, we all suffer together. This is true of St Paul’s words to the Corinthians – we are all parts of one Body.
“When one part suffers, the whole body suffers. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it. If one part is honoured, every part shares in its joy.” 1 Corinthians 12:25 I wish to make special mention of our islands of Tonga – and our people who are only just beginning to recover from the trauma of the volcanic eruption, the tsunami and ashfall experienced. While this historic event happened just over a month ago, Tonga now faces the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, with positive cases arising recently. Today, people still feel traumatised by the sound of a loud noise, or a scream; people still feel vulnerable as they have lost their livelihoods, their homes, some have lost members of their family. Paciﬁc Adaptation
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Image courtesy of Paciﬁc Conference of Churches
And while the world begins to pour in aid and assistance, a reflection of God’s Love, some of the greatest testimonies and experiences shared from our Tongan sisters and brothers, are that of being community in the midst of fear; being interconnected, praying and singing together, and knowing that many around the world have continued to uphold the island kingdom in prayer. As we approach the Season of Lent – a 40-day season marked by repentance, fasting, reflection and ultimately celebration, it is a time when we remember the vulnerable journey of our Saviour, as Jesus Christ himself became vulnerable to social, political, and religious oppressions. And as we approach Ash Wednesday 2022, the beginning of this Lent journey, while the ashes of this holiday symbolise two main things: death and repentance; “Ashes are equivalent to dust, and human flesh is composed of dust or clay (Genesis 2:7), and when a human corpse decomposes, it returns to dust or ash,” We continue to uphold in prayer our sisters and brothers in Tonga, who have only just recovered from a similar experience of the ashfall, following the volcanic eruption. With this focus on our own mortality and sinfulness, it is our hope that we can enter into the Lent season solemnly, while also looking forward in greater anticipation and joy of the message of Easter and Christ’s ultimate victory over sin and death. His death on the Cross to save us, and His resurrection to assure us of His gift of Salvation.
The Impact of Covid-19 on Women By Dr Gifta Angline Kumar, Church of North India (CNI)
Dr Gifta Angline Kumar completed her PhD in Hinduism at South Asia Theological Institute (SATHRI), and has been teaching religions at Bishop's College in Kolkata, India.
The Covid-19 pandemic has devastated lives
around the world. The pandemic has exposed sharp economic and social inequalities and has widened the already existing gap between privileged and most vulnerable in the society. The impacts of the coronavirus pandemic have not been genderneutral. Women and girl children are more affected by the virtue of their gender. There is no doubt to say that the crisis brought by Covid-19 has deepened pre-existing gender inequalities.
The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap report 2021 estimates there has been a step back of 39 years due to the pandemic. Healthcare access for women and girls has been disrupted, conﬁnement measures increased gender-based violence, and girls disadvantaged and marginalised. Worryingly, it seems we are not learning from the past, as women and girls have encountered similar issues experienced during previous health crises. During the Ebola epidemic, increases in abuse, violence, and exploitation faced by women and girls were also reported.1 Hence, the current article attempts to understand gender-based violence as an aspect of the Covid-19 lockdown.
Plights of Women amid Pandemic The slogan “Stay home, Stay Safe,” really meant, ‘stay home, stay unsafe, stay in fear, stay facing abuse and violence.’ As far as women are concerned, an increase in domestic violence was reported from all over the world as a consequence of the lockdown. According to ofﬁcial data, the National Commission for Women (NCW) registered an increase of at least 2.5 times in domestic violence complaints since the nationwide lockdown in India. Domestic violence is not a new phenomenon.2
health-and-rights/ (15th February 2022) 2
Joycia Thorat, “Impact of Covid -19 on Women and Children,” Religion and Society 65, no. 3 (July 2020): 25.
“Silence and lockdown are the best friends of abusers because they use isolation as an effective tool to control their victims and hide their actions from others” says Rev. Judith VanOsdol, The Luthern World Federation’s (LWF) Program Executive for Gender Justice and Women’s Empowerment. “We’ve seen a sharp increase in the number of women contacting emergency helplines across all the continents,” she notes, adding that “religious leaders have a responsibility to stand up for gender justice and send a strong message that perpetrators of violence and coercion will be held accountable for their crimes.”3 How are religious leaders responding? Pope Francis called on society to stand with women victims of domestic violence, and praise women in frontline roles who help society despite the crisis. “Sometimes they (women) risk being victims of violence in a cohabitation that they bear like a weight that is far too heavy.” People from Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Hindu, and Sikh communities have commented that they have reports of abuse at home ranging from psychological and physical violence to spiritual abuse during the pandemic. Social activists warn of a spike in victims fleeing abusive partners as lockdown eases, with support services struggling to make ends meet. Women are the most vulnerable during this pandemic due to domestic violence, economic instability, lack of proper health care that are discussed here below.
Domestic Violence Domestic violence is any kind of behaviour that a person uses to control an intimate partner through fear and intimidation. It includes physical, sexual, psychological, verbal, and economic abuse. Some examples of domestic abuse include battering, name-calling, insults, threats to kill or harm one’s partner or children, destruction of property, marital rape, and forced sterilisation or abortion.5 Despite the feminist awakening for more than a century, gender equality seems to be still a distant dream. The prevalence of domestic violence is a clear indication that there is no gender equality. Domestic violence is an abuse of power. It is the result of unequal power relationships existing in families between the spouses which in turn is based on patriarchal values and attitudes. These are internalised by both men and women from their childhood. As a result, a large number of women don’t seek help when they face abuse because they think that violence against them is warranted.6 3
Joycia Thorat, “Impact of Covid -19 on Women and Children,” Religion and Society 65, no. 3 (July 2020): 25.
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As the Covid-19 lockdowns trapped women at home with their abusers, the instances of domestic violence spiked throughout the world. In India, reports of domestic violence, child marriage, cyber violence, and trafﬁcking of women and girls increased within the ﬁrst few months of the pandemic.7 Violence against women is an existing global crisis that thrives on other crises. Conflict, climate-related natural disasters, food insecurity, and human rights violations all contribute to women and girls living with a sense of danger, even in their own homes, neighbourhoods, or communities. The Covid-19 pandemic, which necessitated isolation and social distancing, enabled a second, shadow pandemic of violence against women and girls, where they often found themselves in lockdown with their abusers.8
Health Impact The Covid-19 pandemic and strict lockdown in India have adversely affected the health services, especially for women such as maternal health, family planning, and abortion services. Fear of infection was also one of the reasons that impacted the health of women as many medical facilities denied regular services and even many women hesitated seeking medical help. Although the Government of India deemed and made RMNCAH+N (Reproductive, Maternal, Child, Adolescent Health and Nutrition) services essential and available it continued to be a big challenge.9
Financial Stress and Domestic Violence Covid-19 had a great impact on the economy of the whole world, especially India as a developing country. There is a direct link between ﬁnancial stress and domestic violence. The rates of domestic violence seemingly rise with an increase in ﬁnancial stress. Research also shows that the repeated victimisation of women is seen to be more frequent in cases where the family is under some sort of ﬁnancial strain.10 Evidence shows that women’s economic life has been affected more in comparison to men. The women earn less and have less secure jobs. Especially the women who head the house are to be affected more. The situation is worse in developing countries like India where the vast majority of women’s employment i.e.,70% is in the informal economy with few protections and limited access to social protection. To earn a living these workers are often dependent on public space and social interactions, which are now being restricted to contain the spread of the pandemic.11 Socioeconomic stressors such as ﬁnancial pressure, employment, food insecurity, and family relations stood out as having a signiﬁcant impact not only on experiences of safety (or violence) but also on women’s well-being overall. However, there is strong evidence that ending violence against women and girls is possible.
https://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2021/7/faq-women-and-covid-19-in-india accessed 15th February 2022.
“Measuring the shadow pandemic: Violence against women during COVID-19,” accessed 15th February 2022, https://reliefweb.int/report/world/measuring-shadow-pandemic-violence-against-women-during-covid-19-enarru
Sm iti Pandey and Brajesh Gupta, “Effect of Covid-19 on Women in India,” World Journal of Pharmaceutical Research 9, no. 15 (December 2020): 1242.
Shreya Mohanti and Swikruti Mohanty, “Covid-19 Lockdown: A Refuge from the Pandemic for the Harbinger of a Woman’s Agony,” International Journal of Law and Social Sciences (IJLS) 7, no. 1 (November 2021): 3.
Pandey and Gupta, “Effect of Covid-19 on Women in India,”1242.
God in Midst of the Pandemic Where is God in midst of the pandemic? This question assumes God has been inactive. We are living through a period of deep disruption, chaos, and anxiety. Many women who are going through the violence and affected by this covid ask the question that where is God during this time? Is God not a God of justice? Is God present in their suffering? The answer is when we suffer, God suffers too. God suffers when creative possibilities are bent towards darkness rather than light. God suffers with the widow, the victim, the person with mental health issues, the patient struggling to breathe in the ICU. Jesus Christ who shows us what God is like suffered – scorn, opposition, and ﬁnally an agonising death. That is where we ﬁnd God in the pandemic – sharing our pain.12 God is a God of love and calls humanity to live in loving relationships with one another. Yet violence and abuse exist in our societies and the Bible recognises this and reflects our lived experience. Sadly, violence and abuse can affect anyone at any time. Violence and abuse diminish a person and can crush them, preventing them from fully flourishing into all that God created them to be.
The Role of the Church in the Context of a Pandemic
diseases have always been a challenge to it.” The Church is called to serve and equip its ministers and members to care for families. The call or mission of the Church is readily deﬁned by the Lord in the last chapter of Matthew (28:18-20). In short, we are “to go.” The instruction from the Lord “to go and make disciples” also involves the ministry of help and support to those who are victims of a reckless and, in many circumstances, violent society. Churches, and especially the clergy, may be under the impression that domestic violence is not an essential issue facing the Church today. The Bible conﬁrms that brokenness and abuse in the home must be dealt with. Women of every socio-economic level, culture, and religion encounter domestic violence during this pandemic. It is widespread as a shadow pandemic throughout the world. Restoring families and immediately seeking safety for victims of domestic violence are essential aspects of the Church’s call. The Church cannot, as it typically does, remain passive and be detached from the cry of domestic violence victims. The Church can help break this cycle. Many abused women seek help ﬁrst from the Church because they see Church as a safe place. Even if their abusers isolate them from other social contacts, they may still allow them to go to church. Therefore, the Church should take into consideration the following points while dealing with women’s problems during this pandemic.
The church believes that “Healing was an important part of the mission of Jesus and the Apostles. Plagues, pandemics, and incurable 12
“Christian Viewpoint: Where is God during the coronavirus pandemic?” accessed 19th February 2022, https://www.ross-shirejournal.co.uk/news/christian-viewpoint-where-is-god-during-the-coronavirus-pa-251515/
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We Are Called to Love God And One Another Domestic abuse remains a hidden scourge in our societies and churches that is far too often left unchallenged and excused. Domestic abuse is a sin and can cause lifelong trauma to survivors. As Christians, we are called to love God and one another and to care for each other. This means we have a responsibility to hold each other to account and call out injustice in places where we see it.
Every (Woman’s) Life is Important All human beings are created in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:27). The image of God is the fundamental basis for the value and dignity of absolutely all people. The Bible teaches that God is the giver of life, so from birth to the grave we must protect and value everyone’s life. Human life is priceless and no matter the economic consequences that a catastrophe like the one we face brings, we must do everything to care for the lives of all. Any call to victimise some people for the good of others is despicable and contrary to the dignity given by God to all human beings.
Love of Neighbour/Women is the Fundamental Evidence of Our Faith Jesus clearly stated in John 13:35, “By this, all will know that you are my disciples if you have a love for one another.” In times of crisis, our genuine love for others/women is the light to a world darkened by problems. This love is concrete and has as its maximum example the love that Jesus showed us by dying for us on the cross (John 13:34). Our perspective and mission must be the common good and we need to do what is necessary to protect the well-being of women.
Right Way of Reading and Interpreting the Scripture Abused women often say, “I can’t leave this relationship. The Bible says it would be wrong.” Abusive men often say, “The Bible says my wife should be submissive to me.” They take the biblical text and distort it to support their right to batter. A correct reading of Scripture leads people to an understanding of the equal dignity of men and women and relationships based on mutuality and love. Right from the book of Genesis, Scripture teaches that women and men are created in God’s image. Jesus himself always respected the dignity of women. An abused woman may try to explain suffering by saying that it is “God’s will” or “part of God’s plan for my life” or “God’s way of teaching me a lesson.” This image of a harsh, cruel God runs contrary to the biblical image of a kind, merciful, and loving God. Jesus went out of his way to help suffering women. God promises to be present to us in our suffering, even when it is unjust. Pope John Paul II reminds us that “Christ’s way of acting, the Gospel of his words and deeds, is a consistent protest against whatever offends the dignity of women.”13 Therefore, the dignity of women should be protected.
Conclusion The gender dimensions of pandemics are often overlooked, leading to worse outcomes for the most vulnerable. We have the opportunity as clergy and lay leaders to provide helpful resources on domestic abuse through sermons, prayers, education, and pastoral care. One important function the church can serve is, to tell the truth about women’s experiences of abuse, to give a voice where there has been silence. The Churches should take initiative to address inequities, human rights, and gender-related barriers, and scale up and strengthen interventions targeting gender-based violence prevention and response. Through a concerted, coordinated, and intensiﬁed effort the churches should continue to work to reach those most vulnerable to violence in any form, safeguard the rights of affected communities and individuals, and realize more equitable and healthy outcomes for all.
Pope John Paul II, On the Dignity and Vocation of Women (Mulieris Dignitatem), no. 15, accessed 15th February 2022, https://www.usccb.org/topics/marriage-and-family-life-ministries/when-i-call-help-pastoral-response-domestic-violence
Lent After the Anthropocene By Rev. Dr. John G. Mathews, priest of the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church, India
e are living in a decisive period of history where geologists term it as an Anthropocene age. Anthropocene is not a neology rather it has become a hot topic for the last two decades. In simple terms, it conveys a condition of the signiﬁcant influence of a single species on the planet. In recent times, the Anthropocene has become the broader context and the Covid pandemic the immediate context for human engagements. To address these issues are vital because it unravels the role and vulnerability of human community. Anthropocene depicts the human domination whereas pandemic unravels the human vulnerability and emphasizes the entangled nature of human with the non-human entities. The recent pandemic exposed the deleterious power of a tiny virus creating irrevocable changes in human lives. It not only deciphered the interconnectivities beyond species level but also made our lives constrained with various complications. This forced us to rethink and rediscover new ways to address the current situation. Practices such as wearing mask, social/physical distancing, hand sanitisation have in a way become new rituals in our lives to keep us safe. Thus, it points us to rethink our traditional rituals like spiritual practices to be a means to address multiple issues of the new situation. Through this paper, I discuss the need for refounding lent in an epoch of the Anthropocene. Lent is a spiritual practice of all religions and this has the potential not only to touch the transcendental realm but also to engage in the mundane realities.
After the Anthropocene Anthropocene takes the central role in many recent studies. It is said that, in the geological time scale we are living in the Anthropocene age where human beings play a decisive role. The term Anthropocene was popularised by Paul Crutzen to distinguish the present age from the Holocene. In 2000, during a meeting at Mexico to a growing frustration of human induced changes in the Holocene, Paul Crutzen said that we are no longer in a Holocene age, rather, in an Anthropocene age. In his article Geology of mankind he writes, “it seems appropriate to assign the term ‘Anthropocene’ to the present, in many ways human-dominated, geological epoch, supplementing the Holocene — the warm period of the past 10–12 millennia. The Anthropocene could be said to have started in the latter part of the eighteenth century, when analyses
of air trapped in polar ice showed the beginning of growing global concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane.” 1 He further interconnects the date with the design of the steam engine by James Watt in 1784. There are multiple views regarding the beginning of the Anthropocene age. Some consider a period tracing back to 12,000-15,000 years when agricultural revolution and sedentary human societies occurred, and others claim a time of atomic bombing in 1945. But the suggestion of Crutzen brings more rationale to the term because it connects to the events that accelerated geological changes, i.e., the innovations in industrialisations and radical changes through European Enlightenment. Even though Crutzen emphasized the shift of Holocene to Anthropocene, it took some time for its wider acceptance. More clarity and conformity emanated for the word in the last decade. Scholars who discussed the decisive role of humans in the creation of Anthropocene narrates that, “the earth, which at a certain moment of its history produced a being that seemed at ﬁrst more or less insigniﬁcant, but became more and more important, this Earth becomes now the pure object of the activity of this totally oversized being, which recognises no limits to himself.”2 Now the oversized being took the central role and objectiﬁes the earth, creating radical changes more than unprecedented ways on the Earth. The human-induced changes brought forth unpredictability on the substrata making it evident the transition of the Holocene to the Anthropocene. Thus, the Anthropocene era is the radical influence of humans on the geological substrata causing uncertainties and irreversible changes. In other words, the earth which is interwoven with a spider like human and their secretions impacts the earth surface with deleterious effects. One of the deleterious effects is the environmental change that became unequivocally huge. The changes impacted all the physical, chemical and biological realms. Some of the major features of the environmental adversities are increase in oxides, hydroxides, widespread pollution, inorganic crystalline compounds, concrete (the signature rock of the anthropocene age), carbon dioxide, mass extinction of species and evolving of many new mutated biological strains. These changes in turn aggravated the global temperature, glacier melting and loss of biodiversity. In recent times, the dominating impacts are permeating to all life systems and it creates huge havoc and contributes to the Sixth Extinction as emphasised by Elizabeth Kolbert.
Crytzen, Paul J. “Geology of mankind,” in Nature, VOL 415|3, January 2002, 23 Nature; London, Vol. 415, Iss. 6867, (Jan 3, 2002): 23. DOI:10.1038/415023a. Hans-Christoph Askani, Human responses to the global environmental crisis. (Why not? Part II), Yonsei University: 2018 UNIGE-Yonsei Theological Conference – Eco-theology: Contemporary Challenges in Interdisciplinary Perspective, 2018 June 26-27, 93.
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“After the Anthropocene” is considered because of two reasons, ﬁrst, the humans who are the dwellers of this planet are facing irrevocable disasters due to the over domination and exploitation of resources, and, Second, to explore the possibilities of how humans can engage in settling the deleterious effects. “After” is not in terms of linear or temporal dimension rather a means to analyse the Anthropocene with critical reflections. The deleterious impacts felt are not only settled by human beings but also by the active interaction of other earthlings. Thus, locating the anthropocene is very vital for every engagement because it deciphers the role of human beings as the major geological force as well as it challenges the centrality and exceptionalism of ‘huMan’. This bio-genetic age is a generative tool to rethink the interaction between human and non-human agents in the planetary level. In sum, “the concept of the Anthropocene is particularly helpful, as it provides a lens to understand (1) the pace at which post-industrial humanity has altered the planet and (2) how bodies are ethically and politically situated within material environments.”3
Traversing the Anthropocene through spiritual practices As aforementioned, at a time of Anthropocene, there is insurmountable havoc all around the world, the recurring axiom that flashes up is, there are no alternatives possible. But the recent Covid pandemic brought us to a new situation where we were forced to adapt new ways of living for survival. We moved from a world of “no alternatives” to a time of “new living”. It created a possibility of how “we” can evolve to live within the new normal. New normal is not a completely new social structure, rather, it is an adaptation to the new living in a new life setting. In this context, many studies have shown that spiritual practices play a pivotal role in bringing dynamic changes in the individual as well as in the community lives. Spiritual practices are crucial for reforming and transforming the vulnerable situations. This can be further explained through two different eastern traditions. Heup Young Kim in his book Theo Dao discusses about Ugŭmch’i phenomenon. For this, he adopts the story of a Korean poet Kim Chi Ha, where he narrates how he used to wonder at some of the ﬁsh which were trying to jump over ten big cement stepping-stones placed across the stream. They were attempting to swim upward against the turbulent flow. Some of them moved upward very smoothly depicting mysterious skill. He explains that this happens due to the sin-ki (vital energy) of the ﬁsh uniting with the sin-ki of the water. The flow of the water occurs in both the directions at the same time. The yin of the water runs upward whereas the yang runs downward. Thus, the feeble ﬁsh aligns with the sin-ki of the water in order to 3
swim upwards. There is a conscious effort of combining the sin-ki of ﬁsh with the sin-ki of water. Further, Kim elucidates that in every demonic situation, the aligning of the sin-ki with the opposite current is an option for survival.4 Similarly, Paulos Mar Gregorios, an Eastern Christian theologian discusses the theological anthropology based on Gregory of Nyssa (33-395). In his theologisation, he elaborates extensively on “diastēma” and “metousia”, the words used by Gregory to deduce the continuity and discontinuity between the Creator and the creation. Gregorios posits that diastēma is central to the thoughts of Gregory to depict the discontinuity between the Creator and the creation. According to Gregory, the gap between the Creator and the creation is ontological and epistemological. It is impossible to objectify God or know God as an object. Therefore, diastēma cannot be conceived within space and time. There is no way to comprehend this gap intellectually but only through experience. This does not suggest that human beings have any faculty to comprehend the divine essence. Further, Gregory suggests that God cannot be comprehended but the human beings can apprehend God with some “mystical faculty.” On the other hand, metousia is used for discussing the continuity between the Creator and the creation. It denotes the participation of the creation in the will of the Creator. Creation cannot exist without participating in the will of God. And the creation participates in the energia of God. We participate in the being, goodness, and life which is given to us through the energia of God. It is the energia of God that brings us to life, sustains and leads us in goodness. This is a possibility for humans to interact with the Creator and the creation.5 For this, a conscious exercise is needed and he proposes the need of askēsis or a disciplined spiritual practice. Both these traditions open an inroad to new living at times of vulnerability. In such instances, human beings possess a unique role to play as the mediator between the Creator and the creation. Feeble ﬁsh overcomes the opposing current of water by aligning with the sin-ki of the water. Similarly, at times of vulnerability human beings can overcome the situation by realising the vital energies within them and the cosmos. These vital energies i.e., both cosmic and divine energies can be realised through spiritual practices. Here, the spiritual does not merely allude to a mystical experience rather a participatory union and engagement with the divine energies. As aforementioned, lent is one of the spiritual practices of every religion and there are good reasons to relook with purpose so that it can open multiple ways for engaging in this epoch of Anthropocene.
Jasmine B. Ulmer, “Posthumanism as research methodology: inquiry in the Anthropocene”, in International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 30:9, (2017) 832-848, DOI: 10.1080/09518398.2017.1336806.
Heup Young Kim, A Theology of Dao (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2017), 18-23.
Paulos Mar Gregorios, Cosmic Man: The Divine Presence (New Delhi: Sophia Publications, 1980), 67-128.
Refounding of the Lent Refounding is the process of returning to the original founding of a particular engagement and to respond creatively with radical new ways. Gerald A. Arbuckle references Adolf Nicolas who posits that,” refounding is an invitation to transcend chaos in a double movement: backward to the original emptiness; forward to a new creation.”6 Therefore, refounding of lent pertains to rediscovering it as an important spiritual practice in our present liminality and bringing forth fresh ways of engaging in the chaotic situations. Lent is not a substitute for any particular engagement, rather it is a spiritual practice for which there is no substitute. Every Lenten period is related to the life and ministry of Jesus Christ and His salviﬁc plan. It is a means of repentance, reconciliation and renewal. ‘Saumo/Sawma’ is the word for ‘lent’ in Syriac and it means fasting. Lent is always characterised by fasting which is a spiritual exercise. But it is not merely fasting rather more than that. Fasting helps us to discipline ourselves and be conscious about reality. Another nuance of lent originates from its etymological understanding, i.e., lencten which connote to the “spring season,” a time to bloom and blossom. Thus, it possesses multiple nuances. In the book of Genesis, we see the breaking of fast as the transition in the entire creation narrative. Human beings disobey God and this disobedience comes through food and thus the early church emphasised fasting as one of the important spiritual practices. In the Old Testament, especially in Joel 2, Jonah 3, and Esther 4, the people of God observed fasting when they became vulnerable. Similarly, in the New Testament, Jesus afﬁrms the power of fasting when he became vulnerable to the temptations. Thus, from the biblical vantage point, there are many reasons to rethink and rediscover the purpose and power of fasting. Lent is very signiﬁcant in the eastern lectionary and the Indian churches who uphold Eastern Christian heritage mainly commemorate ﬁve Lenten seasons. They are 25-Day lent remembering the incarnation of Jesus Christ and fulﬁlment of the promise, the 3-Day lent remembering the repentance of Jonah and the Ninevites, the 50-Day lent remembering life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Apostle’s lent remembering the life and leadership of the Apostles in spreading the gospel and the 15-Day lent remembering the life and witness of Virgin Mary. As aforementioned, lent is a disciplined spiritual practice for a new living at times of transitions and vulnerability. It helps us to co-exist and participate with the vital energies of the cosmos and the divine. But in this current world of scientiﬁc explosion, there is a strong feeling of incredulity towards religion. This incredulity towards institutionalised religion culminates in the increased desire for spirituality. Thus, spirituality has attained multiple nuances. Today, spirituality is not only conceptualised in theistic vantage point rather in non-theistic perspective also. According to Rosi Braidotti, in the age of new materialism, spirituality is comprehended as “vitalist materialist spirituality,” and she elucidates it as afﬁrmative and nontheistic in nature, i.e., an afﬁrmation of the rebirth of immanence, joy, or life, as creation.7 It possesses a sense of intimacy with the world, sense of entanglement, sense of multiple forms of ethical accountability, sense of afﬁrmation. This conceptualisation is an extension of the theistic perspective but relegates the role of the Creator from every discourse. Whereas, the Eastern Christian heritage does not contradict the proposal of new materialism but extend it by afﬁrming the presence of the Creator. In this tradition, the roles of the Creator, creation and human beings are afﬁrmatively exhibited. Creator is at a time transcendent as well as immanent. Gregorios describes Creator as distinct as well as in conformity with the creation. According to him, matter is the abode of God. His articulation of presence of God in all matters is not an idea of panentheism but a conceptualisation to experience God within all matters.
Gerald A. Arbuckle, The Pandemic and the people of God: Cultural impacts and pastoral responses (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2021),196, Kindle. Rosi Braidotti, “Conclusion: The Residual Spirituality in Critical Theory - A case for Afﬁrmative Postsecular Politics” in Transformations of Religion and the public Sphere: Postsecular Publics, Rosi Braidotti et al., eds., (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), 257.
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This does not exhaust the understanding of God rather provides multiple nuances. By afﬁrming matter as the abode of God, he explicates that the depth and breadth of matter is God and both the transcendence and the immanence can be experienced through matter. Thus, like new materialists the place of matter is reafﬁrmed. Even though, transcendent manifests through matter, it is always distinct from matter. Further in his conceptualisations, human beings exhibit a mediatory (methorios) or the frontier role between the Creator and the creation. Human beings participate in the energeia of God and not in the ousia. Thus, human becomes the mediator between Creator and creation. Human at a time is creation and creator. A concept similar to Created co-creator of Philip Hefner. The emphasize of Creator, creation and human beings are the thrust of this tradition. According to this tradition, lent leads us to truth. It leads us to the knowledge of the Creator, creation and human beings. Gregorios emphasizes that, “truth is a quest, not a concept, not an idea or a proposition. … Truth is a state of being rather than a statement of fact.”8 Lent is an experience to comprehend truth. This spiritual transformation does not culminate in the realisation of the truth rather it promotes transformative actions. According to Foucault, spirituality possesses three characteristics. The ﬁrst characteristic is the transformation of the subject. The second is the ascending or enlightening movement in the subject through spiritual practices which changes the present condition and the status of the subject. And the third characteristic is the effects produced when one gets access to the truth.9 For such an experience, Foucault emphasizes the necessity of conscious efforts by a subject. Lent being a spiritual practice, it is a conscious effort which leads to formation and transformation of the subject and the mundane realities. As every lent is aligned with the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, it forms and transforms our everyday lives. The arrangement of feasts, fasts and lent are classiﬁed either as daily practices or yearlong practices. Seven canonical hours of services are arranged according to the special hours on the cruciﬁxion day. Thus, the thrust of such observances is a means to walk with Christ every day, every hour and at every time. Karen Barad, one of the new materialists writes in What Flashes Up: Theological -Political -Scientiﬁc fragments, that the Jewish people counts the time/months by the moon. As the Great Lent is a moveable feast, therefore the date of Easter is calculated on the basis of full moon, i.e., ﬁrst Sunday after the full moon in the month of March or March Equinox. She writes, “in Hebrew the word “month” (Hodesh) is from the same root as “new” (“innovation”) (Hadash): the new moon – which marks the beginning of the month 8 9 10
– brings renewal, not mere repetition, but iteration.”10 Any calculation basing on lunar calendar is different from that of Julian and Gregorian calendars, as it brings forth renewal, a new rhythm and the possibilities for change. It provides a discontinuity and a provision for repeated renewals. In addition to that, the ﬁrst act of the Great Lenten period is the “Service of Reconciliation” or Shubkono. Here, the observants are reminded the need of reconciliation with the Creator, creation and the self before the lent begins. Thus, through the refounding of lent, three aspects are reafﬁrmed, i.e., reformation, renewal and reconciliation. This refounding caters for further engagements.
Situating the self for a transformative action Foucault, while analysing the Greco-Roman and Christian traditions, proposes a concept called the “technologies of the self” to understand the human subjects. According to him, the self-care and self-knowledge are related and the fourth century Christianity develops a unique penitent expression of self-knowledge i.e., practice of obedience and contemplation. This gave rise to self-examination and verbalisation of thoughts in an individual. This emphasizes a hermeneutical relationship with oneself and to become the master of the new technology of the self. Lent, the spiritual practice is a technology of the self to understand oneself and to respond creatively to the signs of the time. It is a search, practice and experience for necessary transformations in order to situate oneself. The self is not a “deep self” as comprehended by western rationality rather it is the entangled self. At a time of the Anthropocene and advanced capitalism where transhumanist technologies are all set to transport biological brain to non-biological substratum and attain posthuman condition, lent situates the self to the politics of the location. Thus, this spiritual practice embellishes the realisation of the self as an interconnected, embedded, embodied and intertwined assemblage. Situating the self is very vital for the transformative actions in the Anthropocene age. Self as the entangled assemblage proposes the complexities of the human composite. We are not mere entities rather an activity who can mediate within multiplicities. But, with the development of modern science, there took a repositioning of human beings as the measure of all things. This approach disﬁgured the planetary scope of human beings. The Eastern Christian tradition highlights human goodness and oneness of humanity without negating or undervaluing the rest of creation. Gregory of Nyssa considered human beings as cosmic in nature and as an intermediary between God and the creation. This caters the space for transformative actions. Basing on the thought habits of Gregory, Gregorios posits that the
Paulos Mar Gregorios, A Light Too Bright - The Enlightenment Today: An assessment of the values of the European Enlightenment and a search for New Foundations (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992),153. Michel Foucault, The Hermeneutics of the Subject. Lectures at the Collège de France 1981–1982 (New York: Picador, 2005), 16. Karen Barad, “What Flashes Up: Theological -Political -Scientiﬁc fragments,” in Entangled Worlds: Religion, Science, and New Materialism, Catherine Keller and Mary-Jane Rubenstein, eds., (New York: Fordham University Press, 2017), 45.
essential nature of humanity is “to enjoy the created world and the uncreated energies of the Creator at the same time”11 This is contrary to the modern version of human as the sole master of the creation. Enjoying the creation without disﬁguring and participating in the energeia of God enhances a planetary scope for transformative actions. Lent is a technology of the self, which equips the human beings to locate within the creation and to participate in the energeia of God which brings forth transformations in the vulnerable situations. Like the feeble ﬁsh in Ugŭmch’i phenomenon, participating in the energeia of God equips the human beings to navigate against the current and become the agents of transformation.
Co-existing within the New Community In this Anthropocene age, lent is also a call for reinventing and reconﬁguring a new community. Donna Haraway in her book Staying with the Trouble, discusses the opportunities and responsibilities endowed with the times of trouble. For her, it is a time for kin making. She writes, “staying with the trouble requires learning to be truly present, not as a vanishing pivot between awful or Edenic pasts and apocalyptic or salviﬁc futures, but as mortal critters entwined in myriad unﬁnished conﬁguration of places, times, matters, meanings.”12 As Haraway propose, staying with the trouble is a means to be truly present by discerning the signs of the time. The Anthropocene and the pandemic have become a context for everyone to be truly present which energises us to reconﬁgure our connections and engage in kin making. It is a time to be truly “living” in the present. Spiritual practices equip and revitalizes every individual to respond to the time. Lent is not merely a mystical experience of an individual rather it is a ‘participatory union’ in and with the divine. This is the thrust of the Eastern heritage and Gregorios reiterates on the participation of the individual with the energeia of God through spiritual practices.13 Participating in the energeia of God can be witnessed at times of vulnerabilities. During the pandemic, many reacted spontaneously rather than rationally. Many a times, the modern man respond and deliberate in a rational way but pandemic made the emotions and instincts surpass the rational nature. Similarly, in the Anthropocene epoch human beings need to be very conscious about the context and should respond by discerning the planetary signs. Renewal of the connections is a means to address many unforeseen catastrophes of the Anthropocene. Fritjof Capra emphasizes the maintenance of web of life through spiritual practices. The Eastern tradition highlights lent as a time of honing our instincts and training our emotions so that we engage in cultivating true Christian responses to the immediate context. It is a period for abandoning ignorance, lust, harmful thoughts and imbibing forgiveness, self-denial and good works.
Re-enchanting the earth The embedded, embodied, interconnected and transversal nature enables the human beings to explore new hermeneutics of engagement. These natures help the humans to co-exist with the non-humans of both the organic and the inorganic. The modern scientiﬁc leap created disenchantment and it needs to be recovered through re-enactment. The present vulnerability through the Anthropocene should equip us “to stay with the trouble of living and dying in response-ability on a damaged earth.”14 Therefore, Haraway emphasizes on sympoiesis rather than autopoiesis which will enable the human to participate in the ongoingness which is both continuous and discontinuous. Here, the proposal by Haraway is a possibility of bringing surprises in the ongoingness. This postulation ensemble the re-enchantment in the ongoingness.
Gregorios, Cosmic Man, 225.
Donna J. Haraway, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2016), 1.
Paulos Mar Gregorios, The Human Presence: Ecological Spirituality and the Age of the Spirit (Amity, New York: Amity House, 1987),92.
Donna Haraway, “Chthulucene,” in Connected-ness: An Incomplete Encyclopaedia of the Anthropocene (Denmark: Strandberg Publishing, 2020),101.
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Eastern Christian tradition considers liturgical life or spiritual practices as important factors in the scientiﬁc and technologically empowered world. Gregorios always asserted for a balanced combination of these two streams, a sympoietic participation to understand the reality and truth. But at the same time, he was signiﬁcantly much concerned about the ways in which European Enlightenment has reduced science and technology into a sphere of mere rational thinking and a means of dethroning God. Therefore, he proposes the need to focus on the element of mystery which is more sacramental and beyond the Western sense of sacrament. According to him, mystery means “rising above the dimension open to our senses, into participation in a transcendent community where communion with the transcendent is experienced historically through the liturgical action of the transcendent in the community, by word and deed, by sign and symbol, by body and soul as well as by mind and spirit.”15 Here, he theorizes that the liturgical action of a situated community in history is to experience the communion with the transcendent by interlinking to the mundane realm. In this engagement, there is a possibility to develop a reverent-receptive attitude. The reverent-receptive attitude is “being open to fundamental reality as it manifests itself to us through visible, audible, sensible realities in creation.”16 By holding mystery and mastery together as well as attaining reverent-receptive attitude will provide the space for re-enchanting the earth in the Anthropocene age.
Conclusion Lent is a spiritual practice which focus both the transcendent and immanent realms. It is a technology of the self to attain the realisation of the truth, thus prospering towards the transformation of the self as well as the community. Re-founding of the lent is the necessity of the hour which will focus on the founding principles such as reformation, renewal and reconciliation. This technology of the self enables the human beings to live in the present by engaging in kin making. Kin making is a powerful source of re-enchantment in the Anthropocene age. It enables each one to situate their self within the politics of the location as well as to co-exist with other critters. Human beings perform a mediatory role between the Creator and the creation, and lent provides the source for such performance. Therefore, in the present vulnerable situations, the lent cannot be overlooked rather should be considered with utmost importance for refounding it. As the feeble ﬁsh in Ugŭmch’i phenomenon, human beings need to inculcate the power of aligning the sin-ki with the opposing current as well as enjoy the freedom of participating in the energeia of God. Gregorios proposes a spirituality for the technologically ubiquitous milieu, basing “on prayer, meditation, worship, and sacramental life; on loving service and unostentatious self-sacriﬁce, on humility and graciousness; on overcoming acquisitiveness and aggressiveness; on transparency to each other and to the transcendence.” Such a spirituality is beﬁtting for the Anthropocene age, and embodying the same will in turn become the transformative spiritual practices for the vulnerable situations.
Rev. Dr. John G. Mathews received his PhD from Yonsei University, South Korea. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Paulos Mar Gregorios, Philosophy East and west (Kottayam: MGF, 2013), 388.
Gregorios, The Human Presence, 90.
Gregorios, The Human Presence, 107.
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How can women “Rise to Life” amid gender-based violence? Rev. Dr Janet Wootton has recently retired as a Congregational Minister and Director of Studies for the Congregational Federation. She is on the editorial committee of Feminist Theology Journal, and an active supporter of movements against the trafﬁcking of women, and for gender equality. She is an author and hymn-writer.
here is an extraordinary story at the end of the book of Judges (chs 19-21). It begins and ends with the assertion that there was at this time ‘no King in Israel’ (vv 19:1, 21:25) and the whole event takes place against the backdrop of a society that is sliding into confusion and chaos. Through this lawless landscape, a small-time religious leader (a Levite) sets out in pursuit of his concubine (a sort of sex-slave, owned by a man as part of his household), who has run away back to her father. Far from protecting his daughter, her father welcomes the Levite with open arms, and the two men get drunk together. On the way home, the Levite accepts overnight hospitality in the territory of the tribe of Benjamin, but a night-time mob storms the house, demanding sex. The terriﬁed Levite throws his concubine out to the crowd, who rape her, all through the night, till she is dead. Devastatingly, she dies at the threshold of the house where she is staying, with her hands stretched out to the door, which is closed against her. What follows is akin to bitter farce. Burning with rage at the violence committed by the Benjaminites, the men of the tribes of Israel, muster for war. Ah, but they are also tortured by remorse – ‘How can we rise up against one of our own tribes?’ What to do? They turn to the Lord, who tells them to ﬁght. So they slaughter the Benjaminites, destroying men, women and children. Right! But then they are racked with remorse again. ‘Now that we have killed all the women, the survivors of Benjamin will die out’. Oh no! And, back when they were still burning with rage, they all swore an oath not to give their daughters to the men of Benjamin. Oops! But, hang on, there is one town whose men-folk weren’t there when the oath was sworn. Aha! So they rush off to that town, slaughter the men, plus the married women and children, and carry the virgin women off to give to the Benjaminites. And when that isn’t enough – well, read it for yourself. It’s not pleasant. 42 INSiGHT MARCH 2022
You see, the whole story is told from the point of view of the men. If you turn it round, and read it from the women’s perspective, you will see something very different. While the men are off killing each other, slaughtering women and children, and inventing puerile ruses to get round ridiculous oaths made in jealous rage, the women have no power, no rights at all. I write this against the backdrop of fresh revelations of gender-based violence by Christian clergy in Church institutions; allegations of systematic abuse involving the British royal family; and the recognition that the various Covid lockdowns have resulted in huge increases in domestic violence globally. How are women to rise to any kind of life amid gender-based violence that encircles the globe, and runs throughout recorded time? The pandemic shows gender-based violence to be endemic in the human race. It's not just the occasional rogue male (or complicit female) who needs to change. In all these stories, ancient and modern, violence is rooted in institutions, which take the side of the powerful, and silence all other voices. Even God is invoked in justiﬁcation. In too many situations, still, women have very little agency, and often nowhere to run. And yet there is a powerful, persistent biblical message proclaiming justice and equality in God’s sight. If we took this teaching seriously, by God’s grace, we could bring about the transformation needed to enable women to rise to a new life of flourishing for the whole human race. So why don’t we? Isaiah speaks of a coming ruler who will be equipped with God’s spirit, a spirit of wisdom and understanding, who will judge the poor with righteousness, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth (Isaiah 11:2,4). Joel foresees a time when that same spirit is poured out on all flesh. Maybe we should be listening out for God’s spirit speciﬁcally when our daughters speak out. (Joel 2:28-9). Above all, we can look to the actions and words of Jesus. In the face of institutional violence against women in his own day, Jesus systematically and consistently raises the women he encounters to new life, so that their voices can be heard. This is no easy task. Gender-based violence is like a virus, deadly, often hidden, always dangerous, affecting every area of life. But by the life-giving example of Jesus and in the power of God’s Spirit, we can see women rising to life: for which, Hallelujah!
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Reflection on CWM’s Theme
By Nikotemo Sopepa, CWM Mission Secretary to the CWM Paciﬁc Region
The Paciﬁc is waiting to receive Rev. Melanie
Smith and Rev. Mark Meatcher as Partner in Mission at the Paciﬁc Theological College (PTC). Melanie and Mark, both ordained ministers of the United Reformed Church, UK. Melanie is will be working as the Director for the Women’s Development Centre. The aim of this centre is to train and empower women for leadership across various spectrums of life, and not just in the church. The intentional focus on women empowerment and leadership is an attempt to invite all Paciﬁc peoples to deﬁne and decide the region’s future. This is not part PTC’s objective for developing such a centre. This is my own reflection on what rising to life means for Paciﬁc women as CWM sends a long-term PIM in Melanie and Mark. In recent yesteryears, women have begun to play important roles in making decisions pertaining to the political and economic development of the region. But the region has yet to see the church providing such a platform for equal footing for women. Women ordination has been introduced to the region, although some churches ﬁnd excuses as to why women cannot be ordained without negotiating a way forward. But the evasion of the issue of women leadership in the church remains a problem. Yet rising to life is not something CWM introduces to the churches and world mission. It has been an intrinsic part of the Christian faith. Yet, for many Christians, ‘rising to life is conditional’. In the case of the Paciﬁc where women leadership in church is not an issue for discussion, culture and biblical interpretation plays a vital role in this stalemate. Contextualising theologies and liturgies have been part of the Paciﬁc church journey for over half a century, taking into consideration that Christianity in some parts of the Paciﬁc is less than 100 years old. But the church has begun to contextualise its theologies, yet the same church cannot bring itself to be in conversation with culture outside the academic hallways. The real problem in the fear to fully provide an environment for women leadership to thrive in the church is the issue of power. Beginning from the family, men have yet to come to term that decision
Married ministers Rev. Mark Meatcher and Rev. Melanie Smith presented to the Enﬁeld parish Image via www.enﬁeldindependant.co.uk
making at the family level is a shared responsibility. The same attitude is carried forward to the church setting. The stark separation of roles according to gender is a matter of fear, fear that eventually becomes power. Sadly, power in turn becomes violent and unjust. And this violence and injustice is translated into the defending of culture and church polities that prevents women from reaching the helm in the Paciﬁc church. But I want to make something really clear, sometimes we think that it is only men that prevents women from rising to leadership. It has been identiﬁed that even women in church vouches for men to remain in leadership. Sometimes this comes from women with privileges. Those who are wives of ministers and sees the elevation of other women to ministerial posts as a threat to the privilege they enjoy. What is more daunting is the intrinsic instilled culture of gender discrimination that is the result of over a century of biblical interpretations that has influenced Paciﬁc culture. The line between this connection of biblical interpretation and what is now considered Paciﬁc culture is invisible, and many today think that culture as it is what we practiced during pre-Christian era So, when we speak of rising to life, as a Paciﬁc church, there is a need for this area of ministry to be considered. Yes, women have been ordained. What we need now is a recognition of their calling to ministry, a calling equal to their male counterpart. When this is realised without prejudices, then I can say that women have been treated as equals.
If you believe, you will see the glory of God By Dr Zohmangaihi Rokhum, Partner in Mission
Dr. Zohmangaihi Rokhum is a Partner in Mission serving with the Presbyterian Church in Myanmar as a Lecturer at the Tahan Theological College.
n 18th March 2020, I left Myanmar for my visa renewal and reached home after two days. That was the day before the Government of India called for Janata Curfew (a nation-wide lockdown) as a measure to curb the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the Janata Curfew, the state of Mizoram also imposed Total Lockdown for almost the whole year of 2020. On one hand, being in lockdown with my family was a blessing in disguise, but on the other hand, I was away from my station and could not perform mission work. The outbreak of COVID-19 had also spread among the people of Myanmar; hence, our College had to be closed and we had to introduce online studies. Through God’s continual guidance, we held our online classes smoothly and conducted semester exams as well. While we were following life in the new normal introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic, the most heart-breaking, shocking and saddening incident of military coup took place in Myanmar on 1st February 2021. In the midst of the COVID-19 Donations for Myanmar Refugees. pandemic, thousands of un-armed protesters were killed, a thousand others were Photo by Dr Zohmangaihi Rokhum detained by the military and a year-long state of emergency was declared. In such a tragic situation, our College had to be closed for the new academic year of 2021-22. As one of the CWM’s Partners-in-Mission (PIM), I would like to share my experiences of addressing the challenge brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic along with the military coup in Myanmar.
The connection My hometown Aizawl is the state capital of Mizoram, one of the states in India. Mizoram is a landlocked state of North East India. The southern and eastern parts share 722 kilometres long international borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh, and the northern parts share domestic borders with Manipur, Assam and Tripura. Historians believe that the Mizos are a part of the great wave of the Mongolian race spilling over into the eastern and southern India centuries ago. Their sojourn in western Myanmar was estimated to last about ten centuries. Before the British moved into the hills and made a geographical boundary between India and Myanmar, the Mizo people in India and the Chin people in Myanmar were known as the same community. Due to the British ‘divide and rule’ policy, the Mizos settling in and around Mizoram states were divided and separated by international boundaries. Till today, we have had a strong and indestructible connection and relationship between the Mizos and the Chin people in Myanmar.
Shortage of Oxygen in Myanmar After the outbreak of peoples’ movement and protests in Myanmar against the military coup, the deadly Covid-19 virus deeply penetrated into general public where more than 1,000 people have died in a day. The death toll rises each day, with a number of Pastors who were to perform funerals among them. In the meantime, one of the most tragic things which has taken place all over Myanmar was not having a supply of oxygen. The military juntas controlled the oxygen plants and restricted the supplies. Hundreds of people queued in front of the plants and agents for 24/7 to buy oxygen for their dear and loved ones who were struggling for life.
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The people of Mizoram, the various NGOs and the churches have provided for their basic needs by supplying foods, medical needs and social protection.
Donations collected by the ICWM. Photo by Dr Zohmangaihi Rokhum
In such a heart-breaking situation, I have also heard the news about the death of our beloved outgoing Principal of Tahan Theological College (TTC). Not only that, we received the saddening news about the death of our friends and fellow members in the church every day because of the shortage of oxygen supply. The double agony of pain and loss in the midst of fear and terror and the situation of Myanmar has made us cry and mourn along with them.
(Indian Rupee) in a campaign lasting just one night. The total amount collected was more than 13 lakhs (around 18,000 USD).
Oxygen for Tahan campaign Being a part of the Presbyterian Church of Myanmar, serving at TTC, the terrible condition of Tahan (Kalaymyo) urged me to do something from Mizoram, India. With the help of a WhatsApp group of friends who are alumni of Aizawl Theological College (ATC), which is one of the best Theological Colleges in India, we initiated a campaign called Oxygen for Tahan all over Mizoram. God’s miraculous intervention was witnessed from the beginning to the end. People from different parts of Mizoram and even from abroad contributed money for the people of Myanmar. The campaign was backed by the Mizo Theological Association (MTA) whose members are Mizo Theologians from various denominations and they contributed more than 1 lakh (Indian rupee). One of the most influential Mizo Youtubers ‘Victor da Scavenger’ and his friends and fans also raised more than 1 lakh
Photo by Dr Zohmangaihi Rokhum
Hundreds of empty oxygen cylinders were carried down from Tahan (Kalaymyo) to Mizoram border with the assistance of Kalaymyo NGO united. Transportation within Mizoram is undertaken by Champhai Sub-Headquarters YMA (Young Mizo Association, the biggest and strongest NGO in Mizoram). We, the ATC Alumni, were assigned with the responsibility of reﬁlling oxygen in Aizawl, and distribution of test kits and other items. Through this oxygen campaign, many people who were in need of oxygen support were able to receive oxygen in time. Along with the reﬁlled oxygen tubes, thousands of Covid-19 test kits, PPE sets and medicines were sent and distributed free of charge to various Covid Care Centres within and around Kalaymyo city. It is interesting to note that many people have beneﬁtted through the campaign which started from a small beginning.
The Refugees As people of the same traits, with common history and ancestry, the international boundary would never be enough to alienate the peoples of Mizoram and Myanmar. Thousands of people, especially people from the nearby Myanmar villages, have entered Mizoram for shelter and protection from the atrocities of military juntas in Myanmar. It is
estimated that more than 10,000 refugees from Myanmar have entered and are currently residing in different parts of Mizoram. There are a number of refugee camps in the border villages where hundreds of refugees are residing and settling for the time being. The government of Mizoram has allowed refugee children to continue their schooling in the local government schools. The people of Mizoram, the various NGOs and the churches have provided for their basic needs by supplying foods, medical needs and social protection. Interestingly, the refugees were also included in the Covid-19 vaccination drive and have received the full dose of vaccination. Among the refugees, a few of them have been infected with Covid-19 and suffered from its related health issues. Even then, they were treated equally, with some admitted to the Covid-19 dedicated Hospitals and provided care and treatment. Mizoram is situated in a hilly terrain; the hills are steep and separated by rivers which create deep gorges between the hill ranges. The eastern part bordering Myanmar is steeper and hillier than the western part and considering the climatic condition of the border areas where refugee camps are sited, winter clothing and bedding materials are needed for the coming winter.
Hundreds of people queued in front of the plants and agents 24/7 to buy oxygen for their dear and loved ones who were struggling for life.Photo by Dr Zohmangaihi Rokhum
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Photo by Dr Zohmangaihi Rokhum
A Campaign for Myanmar Refugees On 1st October 2021, the Indian Christian Women’s Movement (ICWM), Mizoram Unit conducted an online meeting discussing an ICWM project, during which I shared my thoughts and concerns for the Myanmar refugees, and how to help them survive in the coming winter. The meeting resolved to organise a Campaign to collect bedding materials and winter clothing for Myanmar Refugees. The campaign was very successful and there were many interesting stories which later brought spiritual enrichment to us. The initiator, the ICWM, is a newly formed women’s forum with few members aiming to be involved in addressing contextual challenges. But we learned that we were too small to take on big challenges. However, God had given and provided us like-minded women in every locality who are more reliable and effective than us. Through the commitment of those respected women, we were able to collect many goods – blankets, quilts, bedspreads, bed sheets, pillows, different kinds of medicine, various kinds of winter clothing, sanitary pads, face masks, Bible story books for children, different kinds of utensils, rice, sugar, cooking oil etc. In addition, some people contributed money which amounted to more than 1 lakh (Indian rupee).
Personal reflections I am thankful to our God who guided me to participate in such big campaigns, giving me good friends who wholeheartedly joined me in my deepest concerns for the people of Myanmar. I was surprised to witness their commitment and dedication to the success of the campaigns. I know that God has opened their eyes and hearts, and helped them to have the sense of knowledge of being involved in God’s mission. Their enthusiasm gave me the opportunity to reflect on my faith and commitment to God in times of crisis. I have acknowledged how precious and valuable it is to be involved in God’s mission, and I have experienced afresh how miraculous our God is! I have realized again how trustworthy and powerful our God is! Jesus’ words to Martha, “Did I not tell you if you believed, you will see the glory of God?” is still effectively working with us. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Let us recommit ourselves again to our God and we will see the glory of God.
Photo by Dr Zohmangaihi Rokhum
Such numerous contributions were handed over to the Myanmar Refugee Relief Committee (MRRC) on 27th October, 2021. The MRRC later distributed those goods to various refugee camps within Mizoram according to their needs.
I know that God has opened their eyes and hearts, and helped them to have the sense of knowledge of being involved in God’s mission. www.cwmission.org 49
Photo courtesy of Rev. Elizabeth Chirwa
Reflecting on my Mission Journey By Rev. Elizabeth Chirwa William and Elizabeth Chirwa served the United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands for 12 years and have returned to their home church, the United Church in Zambia.
he call to serve as a mission partner was upon my life before l became a minister of the Word and Sacrament. I had a conviction that God was calling me to make a difference in ministry. I believed, and still believe, that God does not just call men but women as well. I was also convinced that men and women needed to complement each other and not to compete. The call to serve as a mission partner was conﬁrmed during a Clergy programme between the United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands (UCJCI) and my church, the United Church of Zambia (UCZ). The warmth of the Jamaicans, their hospitality and the hunger and thirst I saw for spirituality, conﬁrmed that I had something to offer and I also had a lot to learn from the Jamaican context.
Overcoming Challenges I experienced cultural shock, especially with the way some females attired themselves by wearing very short and tight shorts. Another shock was the way some young people addressed adults ("You Guys"). lnitially, communication was also a barrier.
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I overcame those challenges through prayer and love. My husband, William, and I saw God answering our prayers. We just loved the people and worked really hard. The word of God and study materials from CWM were very helpful. Our spirituality attracted people to our ministry. We were patient and willing to learn from Jamaicans. We used creativity to draw young people to us and we opened our home to them. We were determined to learn Patois (the local dialect) even though it was challenging to learn. We understood the language but could not speak it fluently.
Continued Appreciation We are indebted to CWM, our sending and receiving churches for the privilege given to us to serve. To God be the glory, great things indeed He has done.
Prayer for the Partners-in-Mission By Michael Jagessar, CWM Mission Secretary – Europe & Caribbean Regions
God-who accompanies-and-sustains: where their hearts are fearful and worried, grant courage and hope; where anxiety is growing and widening, grant peace and reassurance; where the task seems overwhelming and doors seem to close, grant imagination and persistence; where distrust warps their thinking, grant healing and illumination; where spirits are daunted and weakened, grant soaring wings and new dreams. In the name of the One who frees and releases, we pray. Amen.
Seen & Heard
For decades, tireless and tested activists have shown us that we must back strong, independent, women’s rights movements to eliminate violence against girls and women. Now, the broader funding and advocacy community is beginning to invest in these.
Michelle Milford Morse
Vice President for Girls and Women Strategy, UN Foundation
“We have to find ways to create more equality, more opportunity, more justice. There’s a difference between law and justice.”. Bryan Stevenson – Civil-Rights Lawyer
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“Blah blah blah ... This is all we hear from our so-called leaders, words. Words that sound great, but so far, have led to no action... hope is not passive, hope is not blah, blah, blah, hope is telling the truth, hope is taking action, hope always comes from the people!" ~ Greta Thunberg ~
Take A Look
How Dumpster Divers Became Sustainable Heroes
The Gangs Who Trade In People
Food production involves the substantial use of natural resources, for instance, water. To grow crops, maintain equipment and raise livestock, 32 trillion gallons of fresh water was used on average each year in the United States alone - just to generate a surplus of 10.5 million tons of food where over 30 percent would be discarded as waste. Dumpster divers are a group of emerging activists who are tired of the unethical and unjustiﬁable practices by retailers of throwing out perfectly good produce when they are not able to sell them through the capitalist proﬁteering system, denying those who are in need access to food that would sustain them.
Unscrupulous, vicious and inhumane – human trafﬁcking rings in Germany has been targeting the young, children and teenagers, to cater to their network demands across the continents through Russia and Eastern Europe. These youths are mainly from Vietnam as they are lured into Germany with the false prospects and promise of a better life. They ﬁnd themselves trapped in vices as they begin their new lives heavily in debt and forced to work in labour which is illegal and criminal. They live in perpetual fear as they have no one or place that they could turn to in a foreign land, where they are subjected to the exploits of their captors and slave drivers.
Migrants | 2020 At ﬁrst glance, this animation could easily be brushed aside as another mind numbing cutesy cartoon for purely entertainment and passing time, but it doesn’t take long for one to take notice and realise the serious and critical issues the creators are trying to address especially in the current time we live in. The very short ﬁlm highlights the painful experiences caused by climate change as well as displacement, be it due to environment or war and prejudice. This simple storytelling is so effective at bringing across its message that it won multiple prestigious awards in ﬁlm. https://bit.ly/3s4MAad 58 INSiGHT MARCH 2022
What’s Wrong with the World Daniel Garcia is a professional illustrator who specialises in imageries that carries strong visual expressions towards politics, culture, technology and the environment. He uses his art to visualise the obvious yet unseen, perspectives that people are either choosing or denying themselves in recognising and the overall bias and unfairness which plagues the world we live in now. He expects his viewers to react, question and relate to his interpretations, in hope that in turn would inspire one to move towards a positive change. https://bit.ly/3JEC5QS
He Named Me Malala Malala Yousafzai is ﬁrst a survivor and an advocate for the rights of girls as she would like to be known, rather than a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Having experienced extreme violence and facing death head on and surviving all the ordeals, she vows to become an activist for those who are unable to speak and fend for themselves. Her boldness and ﬁerce independence is inspiring yet relatable and humanising. https://bit.ly/3s7BBgc
The Hunting Ground
The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency was embroiled in a huge controversy and labelled as being inhumane and cruel in their methods of enforcing the immigration laws set forth by the Trump administration. Families were suddenly torn apart overnight and people who don’t belong to the white and privileged population soon found themselves being questioned if they had the right being in the country. The docu-series clearly portrays the bout of confusion and uncertainties that ascended on them without warning
Sexual assault of women and men in college campuses in the United States is a common occurrence where the actual statistical ﬁgures are suppressed as the victims are ashamed by the social stigma which rape carries or that the schools were uncooperative or simply uninterested to have the cases brought to light which may be detriment to their reputation. The cover-ups only empowered and emboldened the culprits, sending the victims and their families into emotional and psychological turmoil as they seek justice for the wrong that’s been done to them.
Flow: For Love of Water The truth is always uneasy and to open our eyes, mind and heart to the matter on how the most disadvantage communities among us are subjected to live their lives is appalling. Water is the most natural and necessary element in life sustenance and yet, poor communities are ﬁnding limited access to it because of the greed of water cartels around the world. By privatising water supplies and taking control of the resource, these powerful organisations are able to manage and exploit the masses to their own beneﬁt. https://bit.ly/3JQPiGx
This Changes Everything What is the real reason to Climate Change? For years it has been reported that the carbon emissions from our industries, agriculture, farms and way of life is the problem but now, author Naomi Klein, in her book wants us to delve deeper into the issue by identifying the crux of the issue. It is the Capitalist society in which we operate that encourages overconsumption which not only permanently depletes on the Earth’s natural resources but resulting in hostile repercussions to our planet. https://bit.ly/3HbQ0fN
The End of Poverty? With so much wealth and development in the world, it is hard to comprehend why poverty still exists in this day and age. Is it the flaw of the economic systems or the fault of our governments? What is the nature of such economic woes and why are some subjected to live in the plight of having much less. The inequality between the wealthy and the poor is stark yet unspoken and ignored. Are communities kept poor so that they are able to continue to be exploited to fuel the demands of the rich? Are richer developed countries undermining their less developed counterpart for the establishment and hold on power? https://bit.ly/3HiSrxe www.cwmission.org 59
LAST PAGE “Dushu y tilo my \polozhym za nashu svobodu.” “We’ll lay down our souls and bodies to attain our freedom.” - Ukrainian Proverb -
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