INSiGHT - April 2019

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April 2019


April 2019





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Fallen is Babylon Foreword Subverting Empire’s Power over Minds and Bodies Subverting Empire’s Claim for Male Authority

AT A GLANCE 12 13 14

Worldwatch In Other News Tributes

VIEWPOINTS 16 17 21 24 29 31

Mother Nature How are We Being Subversive? In Conversation with Ljavakaw Tjaljimaraw Multiculturalism Splutters Zimbabwe/Justice/Freedom Empire, Deep Solidarity, and the Future of Resistance




YOUR SAY 40 41 42 43 47 51 53 55

Hear My Cry If You were Me and I were You My Journey in God’s Mission Brexit and the Challenge to the Church in Britain Empire at Work Us and ‘Them’ With Power Comes Responsibility Willing Spirit Weak Flesh


OF EASTER This edition of INSiGHT is dedicated to the Easter story, a story of life and hope. Jesus was crucified, he died and was buried and his disciples were mortified; but, according to Scripture, God raised him from the dead and his disciples told the story with renewed spirit and resilient hope. Our readers and contributors are invited to receive this edition as a lens through which to interpret and respond to the challenges, struggles and desperate circumstances of life. The insight of Easter is the good news that neither the Roman empire nor its colluders had the final word on the cruel death of Jesus of Nazareth. The power-hungry religious leaders of Jesus’ day joined forces with the power-controlling politicians of Rome to destroy Jesus on the cruel cross of Calvary. They saw him as a threat to their thrones of privilege and they set out to destroy him with a vengeance. They thought they had succeeded but God brought naught to their plans; and the disciples’ spirits were restored as they received the life-transforming news from their colleagues, the women, “afraid yet filled with joy” (Matthew 28: 1-10). The news that, at the time of writing this message, over EUR800m was received in pledges to rebuild the Notre-Dame, which, unfortunately, was destroyed by fire, may ring with excitement to many, including President Emmanuel Macron, who wants this UNESCO World Heritage site rebuilt in five years. On the other hand, this news could be disheartening for the people of Tuvalu whose relentless plea for the world community to join them in saving Tuvalu has gone on deaf ears. This is bad news for the people of Malawi, Zimbabwe and Mozambique who are struggling to rebuild their lives after Cyclone Idai has ravaged their lands, killed people in the hundreds and dislocated hundreds of thousands. Indeed, this is the re-enactment of a bleak “Good Friday” for people of Sudan, Syria, Palestine, Columbia, Haiti and so many other countries around the world where abusive power, civil war and abject poverty define so much of life. The destruction of 850-year-old Gothic Cathedral, Notre-Dame, is regrettable; and the fact that the business community and other interest groups are rallying together to restore it is commendable. But the striking contrast in response to issues of poverty, climate disaster and death can hardly escape our consciousness. The message of Easter is as simple as it is audacious – the dispirited and oft despondent people of this world shall not be defeated. It may appear that we have lost the plot to persevere and overcome as the powerful scheme to retain strongholds. But the story of Easter is that God comes in the cold season of Good Friday in a display of defiance and with a strong and subversive statement that death is not the final word. Council for World Mission is grateful to those who contribute to INSiGHT, telling their stories of pain and triumph and exposing the disparities and contradictions of life. We are interested in following Jesus who challenged injustice, confronted corruption and spoke truth to power. Jesus was crucified because his love for the world was too strong to ignore evil, disregard corruption and watch the world perish. He stood his ground amid the fierce opposition of the religious community and the political directorate. In the end he secured a spirit of determination and defiance in his followers whose ultimate story is one of Easter, not Good Friday. I commend this edition of INSiGHT to you, with prayers for insight in the face of life’s challenges. May hope, “anger at the evil in the world and courage to do something about it” (Augustine) be our Easter resolve and may God grant us grace.

Rev Dr Collin Cowan General Secretary

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FALLEN IS BABYLON Reading Bible in the context of empire


FOREWORD Then I saw another angel flying high in the air, with an eternal message of Good News to announce to the peoples of the earth, to every race, tribe, language, and nation. He said in a loud voice, “Honour God and praise his greatness! For the time has come for him to judge all people. Worship him who made heaven, earth, sea, and the springs of water!” A second angel followed the first one, saying, “She has fallen! Great Babylon has fallen!” (Revelation 14: 6 – 8).

The book of Revelation is a story of inspiration for those who live on the margins of society and a message of sobriety, even warning, for those who believe that absolute power resides in human crafty schemes and politics. The dispirited and broken-hearted will discover that God has a plan for their vindication and the high and exalted will know that the “mighty (have) fallen and the weapons of war perish” (2 Sam 1: 27). The message is essentially about the coming of a “new Jerusalem” (Rev 21: 2), “another world” (Arundhati Roy) where a flourishing environment and peace, goodwill and justice for all define God’s creation. Babylon has fallen! The author of Revelation, who lived in the midst of the terrifying power of empire and its persecution of any and all who resisted her, makes this claim twice. Within a few years of this prophetic pronouncement, Rome had indeed fallen. Empire was humbled by the resistant spirit of movements within its colonised lands, movements like the one stirred up by Jesus of Nazareth. And yet, everyone, including the prophet of this message, cried when Babylon fell (Rev 18). What is meant to be a time of celebration for the oppressed victims of empire is equally a time of desolation. No one seems to win. So, we come, in our era of empire, to announce the good news to a hurting world that Babylon has fallen! This is a statement of encouragement and hope for the weary, the battered and bruised of our time. It is also a warning of the great pain and sorrow inflicted on everyone, both the oppressed and the oppressor, when systems and structures are allowed to divide and eventually destroy society. ‘Baby has fallen’ is therefore an invitation to all to embrace a different way of being in community, opening the way to a new epistemology, marked by the experience of life is fullness by all. How can we say Babylon is fallen? We do so because in the face of dominant powers we believe in the ultimate power of God, who is counter-creating in our midst a new heaven and earth, who in the company of peasant girls is working to bring the powerful down from their thrones (Luke 1: 52) and to bridge the divide by challenging the oppressors to confess wrongdoing, make reparation and open the door to the new (Luke 19: 1-10). We have the witness of the biblical text to remind and inspire us that Babylon has fallen. The claims, powers and blandishments of empire are empty and bring not blessing but curse. As we approach the text we realise in glaring details that empire is behind the text, in the text and in front of the text. However, thankfully, the dynamic of God’s people, in the midst of empire, shapes the drama of both testaments and our interpretations of the text. How can we say Babylon is fallen? We do so by being part of what subverts it, and reveals its shame, its charade and its life-denying vices. In 2010, CWM embarked on developing a theology and programme of mission which took empire as its main interlocutor. As we survey the threats to life and to God’s sovereignty, in 2019, we felt it was timely to revisit our theology of mission in the context of empire and to once again call this to the attention of our member churches and partners. CWM offers the following set of bible studies as a new resource to enable conversations about how God is stirring up life-changing and system-changing moments and movements in our midst. I commend it for study, discussion and, above all, action as we invite the world beyond Babylon to break in upon us in hope, light and joy. Rev Dr Collin Cowan General Secretary Epiphany 2019



SUBVERTING EMPIRE’S POWER OVER MINDS AND BODIES Subverting Empire’s claim that humanity is the centre of the universe Claims of empire: “There is no indigenous territory where there aren’t minerals. Gold, tin and magnesium are in these lands, especially in the Amazon, the richest area in the world. I’m not getting into this nonsense of defending land for Indians. [indigenous reserves] are an obstacle to agri-business. You can’t reduce indigenous land by even a square meter in Brazil” Jair Bolsonaro in Campo Grande News, April 22, 2015 This is the attitude at the heart of empire when it comes to creation. It is a resource to be endlessly exploited. The impact of humanity on our environment has been latterly catastrophic and coincides with industrialisation and the emergence especially of consumerist hyper-capitalist economies. On Earth, human activities are changing the natural greenhouse. Over the last century the burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil has increased the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). This happens because the coal or oil burning process combines carbon with oxygen in the air to make CO2. To a lesser extent, the clearing of land for agriculture, industry, and other human activities has increased concentrations of greenhouse gases. The world renowned naturalist, Sir David Attenborough, spoke at the 2018 Climate Summit in Poland: "Right now, we are facing a man-made disaster of global scale. Our greatest threat in thousands of years. Climate change. "If we don't take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon." "The world's people have spoken. Their message is clear. Time is running out. They want you, the decision-makers, to act now," The People have spoken. Leaders of the world, you must lead. The continuation of our civilisations and the natural world upon which we depend, is in your hands. 8057 Humanity thinks it is at the centre and top of creation, that its resources and life are destined and designated only to service humankind’s needs and desires. We live as if we are outside creation, observing it, othering it, limiting its own agency and unique given-ness. Even Sir David Attenborough’s comments reveal a view that humanity having harmed the earth is the ‘messiah’ which can save it. Yet, really we just need to stop harming it, live in harmony with it and creation together will restore fullness and wholeness of life. February April 2019 2019 | Pg| 88 6

DEVOTIONAL Re-reading our texts: Job 39: 1-29 (GNT) Do you know when mountain goats are born? Have you watched wild deer give birth? Do you know how long they carry their young? Do you know the time for their birth? 3 Do you know when they will crouch down and bring their young into the world? 4 In the wilds their young grow strong; they go away and don't come back. 1


Will a wild ox work for you? Is he willing to spend the night in your stable? Can you hold one with a rope and make him plow? Or make him pull a harrow in your fields? 11 Can you rely on his great strength and expect him to do your heavy work? 12 Do you expect him to bring in your harvest and gather the grain from your threshing place? 9


Was it you, Job, who made horses so strong and gave them their flowing manes? Did you make them leap like locusts and frighten people with their snorting?



Does a hawk learn from you how to fly when it spreads its wings toward the south?


Does an eagle wait for your command to build its nest high in the mountains? It makes its home on the highest rocks and makes the sharp peaks its fortress. 29 From there it watches near and far for something to kill and eat. 27


When Psalm 8 asks, “what are human beings, that you think of them?” Job 39 should be offered in answer to temper the self-reverence of humanity. The mystery of Divine Love is not limited to humanity, and the particular place humanity places itself in needs to be relativised by the mountain goats, wild ox, horses, hawks and eagles. And more. The mission of Divine Love is also not so limited, for all of creation plays their part in the mission of transformation wrought by the Creator’s Divine Spirit. God takes joy in the life of all creation, and all of creation’s life is under the promise of renewal and liberation from bondage to decay. The argument between Job and God hinges in part on the self-reverence of Job, not only because his suffering has made him self-centred, so has his gender, privilege and mind set. As a wealthy, educated land owning male, he had become accustomed to being at the comfortable pinnacle of his society and community. As the book opens, we hear that Job owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred donkeys, and very many servants. The text tells us, without irony, that ‘this man was the greatest of all people of the east’ (Job 1:3) His enormous herds surely qualified him to know what animals need and what they are for. But God silences the one who imagines all relationships and knowledge comes through the transactions of ownership, status and service. The drama then continues in which not just the benefits of Job’s privilege are torn away but so is the theology of his privilege also. (This becomes so terrible and unimaginably that the editor/writer is forced to return them to Job at the end!) Job’s attitudes are echoed in empire, especially in terms of dominating nature, family and possessions. A view that is assumed, without question, is the natural order of things and even divinely inspired. The fruit of this in the 21st Century is the real possibility that humanity will destroy not just the habitat which nurtures the lives of polar bears, tigers, gorillas, turtles, whales but the habitat of the whole inhabited earth, humans included especially. The question becomes then what is creation that you think so little of it? Estimates to the size of the ‘Pacific Plastic Garbage Patch’, range from 700,000 square kilometres (270,000 sq mi) (about the size of Texas) to more than 15,000,000 square kilometres (5,800,000 sq mi) (about the size of Russia). The United Nations Ocean Conference estimated that the oceans might contain more weight in plastics than fish by the year 2050. The World Council of Churches new affirmation on mission and evangelism, Together Towards Life, challenges us to make these connections and so place the agency of creation and climate justice at the heart of mission: We need a new conversion (metanoia) in our mission which invites a new humility in regard to the mission of God’s Spirit. We tend to understand and practice mission as something done by humanity to others. Instead, humans can participate in communion with all of creation in celebrating the work of the Creator. In many ways, creation is in mission to humanity; for instance, the natural world has a power that can heal the human heart and body. The wisdom literature in the Bible affirms creation’s praise of its Creator (Ps. 9:1-4; 66:1; 96:11-13; 98:4; 100:1; 150:6). The Creator’s joy and wonder in creation is one of the sources of our spirituality (Job 38–39). We want to affirm our spiritual connection with creation, yet the reality is that the earth is being polluted and exploited. Consumerism triggers not limitless growth but rather endless exploitation of the earth’s resources. Human greed is contributing to global warming and other forms of climate change. If this trend continues and earth is fatally damaged, what can we imagine salvation to be? Humanity cannot be saved alone while the rest of the created world perishes. Eco-justice cannot be separated from salvation, and salvation cannot come without a new humility that respects the needs of all life on earth.


DEVOTIONAL For discussion and reflection: The world’s leading climate scientists have warned there is only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people. What are the implications does climate change have in your community and region? What is your church/congregation doing to engage with this? Reflect on the questions around Psalm 8, “What are human beings?” What is creation to you? The Bible describes a state of mutuality between the Creator and the Creation, and the joy creation takes in the Creator, (Ps. 9:1-4; 66:1; 96:11-13; 98:4; 100:1; 150:6). Do you think the creation takes joy in you? Is it glad when you awake and go about your life? Will it miss you when you are gone? Where do you see signs of the new creation breaking through Babylon’s cracked concrete?

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Subverting Empire’s claim for male authority Claims of empire:

Matthew 28:1-15 (NRSV):

Empire builds a system of dominance through the consolidation of power and influence that is exclusively for men and their benefit. When power is embodied and visualised it is typically in masculine form, so that even and especially the divine is understood to be the epitome of male power. We call this system patriarchy. Patriarchy carves out an oppressive and discriminatory environment where men hold primary power; access and control predominant roles of leadership; function as the authoritative voice on moral, social, political and religious issues. To simply put it, empire is patriarchal.

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he[a] lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead,[b] and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” 8 So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Patriarchy is a manifestation of empire because it privileges male authority by placing male voices as authoritative, credible, powerful and competent. It diminishes the voices of women which are deemed subjective, dubious, illegitimate, inferior, and contentious. The acceptable responses for women under male authority are of obedience, submission, compliance and silence. When men demonstrate traits such as assertiveness and decisiveness, they are praised and celebrated. On the other hand, women who demonstrate the similar traits are penalized, censored and deemed as trouble-makers.


11 While they were going, some of the guards went into the city and told the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 After the priests[c] had assembled with the elders, they devised a plan to give a large sum of money to the soldiers, 13 telling them, “You must say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story is still told among the Jews to this day.

DEVOTIONAL The discovery of the empty tomb by Mary Magdalene and Mary reminds us that from the early Christian beginnings as a movement of the disinherited and ‘disprivileged’. This pericope places women as the only witnesses to the empty tomb of Jesus. They made history by becoming the first apostles whose proclamation of good news humiliates and threatens the male authority of the Chief Priests. The women’s testimony was a dramatic experience. And one can say it was highly unbelievable. The earth shook. An angel appeared. The guards fainted out of fear. The women were tasked to tell the disciples that Jesus is not dead. A resurrected Jesus appears. And the women made audacious claims that they were commissioned by Jesus to fearlessly give instruction to the men to head to Galilee where they will see him. This placed women in the position of power. This turns the tables against patriarchy in disrupting the subordinated status of women. This made the men, even the powerful religious elites, listen to the women. The women’s testimony challenged male authority, privilege, and status quo. To add insult to injury, the women’s narrative positioned them as privileged because it was to them first that Jesus chose to share his risen presence. Matthew points out how quickly Patriarchal power moves to rubbish the claims of women. Matthew records the Chief priests bribing the guards to create strife and hostile rumours around Jesus’ death and resurrection. This is done to reinstate their legitimacy to power and undermine the women’s testimonies – an effort to discredit and cast doubt against the women. The male disciples are also quick to provide their own witness to confirm what otherwise from the women alone would be unbelievable. Jesus’s teachings and ministry were counter-cultural and subversive of the oppressive systems of his day. The community he sought to build through his disciples was meant to be the first fruit of this, thus it was called to be a community of all genders, races and classes. This was already a scandal to many in Jesus’ time and after, (Mark 2:16, Luke 7: 35ff). Jesus’ punishment of death on a cross was an exhibition of the death of those who rebelled against the priestly power of the Temple of Jerusalem and the Roman authorities. Intimidation, violence, aggression, threat and oppression are the tools of empire. His death sentence was a way to silence him and anyone who wanted to follow in his rebel rousing way. Yet, in this pericope, we find that it is the women who followed in his ways. They were rebelling against patriarchy.

They were proclaiming that women can have power, access and control. They were flipping the script of what women ought to be – submissive, silent and insignificant. And with them in this rebellion is Jesus, instigating this new order through the first witnesses he chose. Till today, women in both religious and political spheres struggle to be heard, respected and recognised. But their ongoing struggle offers liberation to all the community. Southeast Asian women conscripted into sexual slavery by the Japanese during the second world war have been silenced for decades. Their testimonies of the sexual abuses against them were contested and discredited. But now they are speaking out, as we see in South Korea. Women navigate contested landscapes where their leadership is under scrutiny, denied or deemed illegitimate. Some churches refuse to recognise the ordination of women, others who do ordain women still find in practice that women ministers face more challenges to their ministry than their male counterparts. While there are increasingly more women in leadership, they are the exceptions to the norm. They have beaten the odds against patriarch and misogyny. But what would it take for these odds to change? For discussion and reflection: The text invites us to reflect on how fully the whole church community participates in the leadership and life of the church. What are the issues around the leadership of women in your church? Why is it like that? Whose interests are kept when women continue to be silenced? The silence of men around the affirmation and including of women into leadership is complicity. For the men reading this, how are you reminded of your relationship with patriarchy – to dismantle or support it? “To the privileged, equality feels like oppression”. Is that how the discussion feels about churches as inclusive communities? What are the joys and benefits to communities where there is just and full participation by all? Jesus was creating a new peoples’ movement, calling together peoples and groups Imperial and Patriarchal society kept down and apart. Jesus mixed with all kinds of people and brought them into a new relationship with each other and with God. Does this describe your church, as a congregation as a denomination? Why is that? What are we called to do when church becomes Babylon?

Reading Bible in the Context of Empire will continue in the next issue of INSiGHT in June.

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Humanity Wins You Might Have Missed

Age is no barrier, especially when it comes to blessing others. A 71-year-old grandmother trekked ten miles to deliver disaster aid items for cyclone survivors to Highland Presbyterian Church in Harare, where volunteers were coordinating relief efforts. Plaxedes Dilon had heard on the radio about those displaced after Cyclone Idai devastated Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi. 1 Unable to afford a bus ride from her neighbourhood, she lugged the clothing and household supplies – items she typically resells for a living, and set out on foot in response to the call for aid. 2 Within 24 hours of the Christchurch, New Zealand, mosque shootings, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made sweeping changes to strengthen the country’s gun laws, with The Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines and Parts) Amendment Bill passing its final reading in Parliament in early April. The new law bans all semi-automatic and military-style weapons, such as those used in the Christchurch shootings, and is intended to get weapons out of circulation quickly. The country will also create a buyback scheme to confiscate the banned weapons, and the prime minister promised steps to ensure there isn’t a rush to buy the prohibited guns before the new law fully takes effect. So far, over 2000 illegal guns have been volunteered to police since the new law took effect. In real life, superheroes may not wear capes. During the Christchurch mosque shooting in New Zealand, a refugee became a hero after he attempted to distract and chase the gunman away from the mosque using a handheld credit card machine. Without the valiant acts of the Afghan-born refugee who partly thwarted a second attack, the death toll could have been higher. 3 An upcoming Canadian feature film will be produced in two dialects of the ancestral tongue of the Haida people - a language known to only 20 people. The film, translated as Edge of the Knife, is based on an old Haida myth about a man who survives an accident at sea, and aims to preserve the highly endangered language of British Columbia’s Haida people. The Haida are an Indigenous First Nations community, whose traditional territory is Haida Gwaii (formerly Queen Charlotte Islands), an archipelago off the west coast of Canada. The film is part of a wider push to preserve the Haida language, including a new dictionary and recordings of local voices. Recent research shows a correlation between indigenous language sustainability and decreased youth suicide within indigenous communities. 4

Student employees at Ohio Dominican University's Computer Helpdesk are putting away the electronics to knit hats, scarves and blankets to hand out to the homeless for Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. They may work in technology, but instead of idly scrolling through their phones in between service calls, they start knitting, with the goal of producing 500 hats by this fall and winter. 5 Six months ago, the Indian government launched Ayushman Bharat, a new health insurance scheme for the most vulnerable sections of the population – around 500 million Indian families. In a country where the cost of treatment can be equivalent to two years’ wages, 1.4 million people have benefitted, receiving secondary and tertiary medical care. It is also on its way to becoming the world’s largest free healthcare scheme. 6 Doing anything special this Easter? A Texas megachurch, Covenant Church of Carrollton, used a $100,000 donation to eliminate $10 million worth of medical debt last Easter. This church donated the $100,000 to RIP Medical Debt, a program that buys and forgives an average of 100 times the amount in medical debt from general public, veterans and local communities. 7 Japan has introduced a bill to recognise its Ainu people as indigenous and protect them by banning discrimination against them. Most of this minority group live on the northern island of Hokkaido, and are believed to hail from three cultures in Russia, Japan and India. Having suffered the effects of forced assimilation for decades, the bill calls for the government to make "forward-looking policies", including measures to support communities and boost local economies and tourism.8 Taiwan’s indigenous people have issued an open letter addressed to Xi Jinping in response to a recent speech by the Chinese president where he warned he would not rule out military means to force the unification of Taiwan with China. The letter challenges Beijing’s claims, asserting that indigenous tribes of Taiwan have inhabited the land for 6,000 years, and do not belong to the “so-called ‘Chinese nation’. Under President Tsai Ying-wen’s leadership, Taiwan had started to recognise and emphasise the ethnic and cultural diversity of Taiwan, in contrast to Xi’s promotion of ethnic Han culture over China’s ethnic and religious groups. 9 3 4 5 6 7 8 a0d8-3113-11e9-ac6c-14eea99d5e24_story.html? 9 1 2

April 2019 | 12


IN OTHER NEWS Stop the Killings

Free Seeds for Green Spaces in New Zealand

At the CWM Africa Region Members’ Mission Forum (MMF) meeting in Blantyre, Malawi, this past February, an official statement was released condemning violent crimes against persons with albinism (PWA), based on a senseless belief that their body parts would bring wealth and good luck. The statement, urged governments to take immediate action against continued ritual killings and gruesome attacks on PWA, and ensure the protection and safety of PWA and their families.

Parishes around New Zealand are involved in cleaning up local parks, in maintaining local reserves, and creating community gardens, as part of community building efforts. The Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ) showed its commitment to caring for creation by offering free seeds to those in their parishes caring for green spaces in their community. These seeds encourage native plants to thrive, and provide food and homes to native birds and insects.

Highlighting that ongoing killings of PWA are a regional concern, the meeting called for churches, communities, governments and independent media houses to make a concerted effort to use their platforms and resources to denounce these atrocities, and uphold and affirm the sanctity of life. Read the full statement here:

Let The Children Live PCM‘s First Women’s Secretary For the first time in its history, Presbyterian Church of Myanmar (PCM) has appointed a female to head its Women’s Ministry. Mrs Van Lal Hming Sangi is a lecturer at Tahan Theological College, with a Master in Theology (Social Analysis) from Tamilnadu Theological Seminary, Madurai, India. She wants to be a voice for the voiceless in the church, and has organised training courses such as vocational tailoring training for poor women, nurse helper training for uneducated young women, and awareness campaigns for equality in church and society. Mrs Sangi is also passionate about promoting women leadership and ordination, raising awareness about climate change, and preventing the exploitation of migrant workers, human trafficking and child abuse. Recently, Mrs Sangi presented a paper “how and and where are we being subversive” at the CWM Seeing Empire Seminar, sharing the social and cultural issues that women are facing in church and society, and how they turn to dancing as an expression of their inner joy and contentment, and as a platform to identify themselves with Jesus Christ. Refer to pages 17 to 20 – for her full presentation.

For the past year, Presbyterian Women Aotearoa New Zealand (PWANZ) has partnered the Methodist Women’s Fellowship to spearhead and raise funds for “Let the Children Live” - a special mission project that provides meals to families with newborn babies especially women with young children struggling with illness and who lack family or social support. The funds raised are allocated to selected needs, overseas and in New Zealand. They also prepare information packs to help the church better understand the needs of the people in the selected areas. 1 Running a Marathon Church Service Over 650 pastors and priests from different denominations and churches conducted round-the-clock services in Bethel Chapel, The Hague, for more than three months to protect an Armenian refugee family from deportation. 2 This included CWM member church Protestant Church in the Netherlands (PKN) which endorsed the service and encouraged other congregations to participate 3, standing in solidarity as they rotated through the marathon church service. Under a medieval Dutch law, immigration authorities are not allowed to disrupt a church service to make an arrest. The Tamrazyan family had been in the Netherlands for nine years, and had applied for a “children’s pardon”, a policy which allows refugee families with children who have resided in the Netherlands for more than five years to get a permit to stay. 4 3 4 5 1 2

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This garnered worldwide media attention, and the Tamrazyan family has since received a residence permit, followed by several other families.5 The Dutch government has also agreed to reviewing the cases of about 1,000 children currently threatened with deportation. PKN General Secretary Rev. Dr Renè de Reuver presided over the last hour of the services, praising the faith of the Tamrazyan family. In Aid of the Rohingya CWM has been receiving contributions for the Rohingyas from the United Reformed Church and the Congregational Federation, two of its member churches. Last October, CWM made a non-food items (NFl) contribution to the Rohingyas through a MOU between the Church of Bangladesh (acting on behalf of CWM) and COAST Trust (Coastal Association for Social Transformation), who works directly with the Rohingyas in Bangladesh. The first distribution of NFI took place on 12th December 2018 in Cox's Bazar Kutupalong Refugee Camp and Bishop Paul Sarker of the Church of Bangladesh was present to witness the distribution.

Rev. Chun-ming Kao, with his wife Ruth in 2011. (Source: The Presbyterian Church in Canada)

Rev. Dr C. M. Kao, Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT)’s longest serving General Secretary passed away on Feb 14, 2019. Throughout his term of service from 1970-1989, the PCT issued its three critical and prophetic statements: Statement on Our National Fate (1971), Our Appeal (1975) and A Declaration on Human Rights (1977), which became important milestones of Taiwan democracy. He also led the PCT through the White Terror and Martial Law period to the dawn of democracy and freedom in Taiwan. In 1980 Rev. C. M. Kao was arrested and imprisoned, tried by a military court, accused and subsequently charged and sentenced for seven years in prison, allegedly for assisting a Human Rights leader. Rev. Kao is well known for his stand on social issues specially the protection of human rights and human dignity during the martial law period in Taiwan.

Rev. Robina Winbush. Ecumenical officer, Presbyterian Church (USA). Central Committee member, World Council of Churches. (Source: World Council of Churches)

Last month, CWM joined the Presbyterian Church, USA, (PCUSA) and international ecumenical community in expressing sadness at the sudden and unexpected passing of its dear sister, friend and colleague, Robina Winbush. It pays tribute to her for her outstanding and selfless service to the mission of the Church, especially on the international ecumenical stage. Robina was a strong, passionate and courageous advocate for justice and peace. She was uncompromising in her articulation and relentless in her pursuit for that which she believed was right and just. She was a great and provocative preacher, who interweaved her personal story in the text to offer perspectives that were fresh, dynamic and engaging. Impatient with callous indifference to suffering and intolerant of any compromise of the faith, Robina was a great partner in the faith and struggle for justice; a great source of inspiration to all who know pain and brokenness; and a channel of hope for all who know, or need to know, the power of God to heal.

April 2019 | 14



MOTHER NATURE by Michael Mc Gregor, Guyana Congregational Union

When the word green is mentioned the word nature usually follows but the understanding of this term to the average person is shallow So many questions can be asked about these pictures but first we need to understand “What is nature?” It can be referred to as the phenomena of the physical world Also everything, in and around that exists The earth is shaped as a ball from a distance, From a very far distance that our activities as human beings, Have separated us from Genesis Most of man’s activities disrupt the natural order For nature, nurtures her own way of life; her own culture Instead of blending with the natural green Mankind is mostly concerned about the printed green Life is no longer about its need but, it’s about greed The natural green has everything to satisfy our needs Greed tempts us daily to tamper and destroy Mother’s beauty How ironic that when the iron strikes hot the results are cold Companies usually hold press conferences to claim the consequences were unknown The consequences of our current advancements are inescapable Destruction of coral reefs and oil spills Deforestation and Global warming Now, we are here patching this dysfunctional relationship Hopefully, these green initiatives can help us from sinking We should be thankful for scientists who go beyond the procedures To help human beings connect closer to Mother Nature Painting a safer and cleaner picture of human advancement And a lifestyle which is contributing to Mother’s development

April 2019 | 16


How and Where Are We Being Subversive?

by Mrs. Van Lal Hming Sangi from Presbyterian Church of Myanmar (PCM)

Myanmarese Tribal Woman making their way to sell their wares.

Following last year’s December seminar in Europe, CWM’s Seeing Empire Seminar continued here in Singapore where Church leaders and resource personnel from various regional member Churches gathered to unmask empire, and to reflect theologically and biblically on what God's Spirit is calling us to do in the midst of empire. Delegates shared elaborated on the many changing faces of empire, and how the theology of mission in the context of empire challenges and inspires us today. Speaking about the status of Chin women in Myanmar was Mrs. Van Lal Hming Sangi, the first female to head the Presbyterian Church of Myanmar’s Women’s Ministry.

Before I present the status of Chin Christian women in Myanmar, I would like to draw our attention to the formulation of women theological perspective for their liberation. This theological formulation is very useful and challenging to women to find and to rediscover the image/symbol of Jesus. That formulation can be called "Jesus as a dancer for women." In various cultures, joy, celebrations of any occasions may be expressed through dance. Even in Scripture, dance is mentioned on many occasions. Likewise, dance is continued from the past until now. Their style of dancing may be different but it goes on. If we study the Chin people, dancing has played a vital role. Drum, song and dance cannot be separated throughout our history.

As Christians, our living shall be regulated and influenced by Christians' main principles which can be considered as our moral obligations.

The most important aspect of dance in Chin society is the equal participation of men and women, which has a powerful liberative dimension. Be it social communitarian dance or the sacred dance in the church, women and men freely participate without any reservation. Men and women were dancing together as the expression of their gratitude to God. It was not only a sign of their gratitude but also a symbol of their commitment to God. Dancing is regarded as a sign of the spiritual liveliness of the Church. However, dance and women are associated together in the church life today. It is felt that women are inclined to dance, as they are more emotional than men are and have less ability to control themselves. Hence, more women have participated in dancing throughout the worship services. However, there is a need to investigate the reason why women are involved in dancing.

Exclusion of women in the decisionmaking body in family and society

The past and present status of Chin women in Myanmar As a living person in this world, we have many factors which regulate and influence our values, attitudes and behaviours. For the Chin women, social practices, traditions and custom are among them. 17 | INSiGHT

As citizen of a nation and global community, we are regulated and influenced by laws, rules and regulation which are considered legal obligations. Chin Christians are sandwiched between these two moral obligations. In order to understand the reality of Chin women, we need to analyse the socio-economic, political and religious life of the people first. As there is continuity of the past to the present,we may need to look at the pre-Christian society that has impact the present women's condition in the society. One thing is that 'traditions die hard' in our attitude towards women.

"The words of women and the horns of female mithun are of no use" The practice of patriarchy is the root cause of women's discrimination, exploitation and marginalisation in our society. In this male-dominated structure, women are regarded as the weaker sex, inferior and subordinate and are debarred from active participation. Traditionally they were excluded in the decisionmaking body in a family and community based on a village setup. Even after Christianity entered the Chin hill regions, the same traditional value infiltrated into the administrative set up of the church and women were not included in the decision-making bodies. As far as women were concerned, Christianity did not bring remarkable change. Rather, it reinforced the patriarchal attitudes towards women.

VIEWPOINTS When it comes to income generation and decision making, even though more women are engaged in income-generating activities, the main bread-winners of the families remain to be men. Men usually take charge of important financial decisions by justifying that they have more experience and can make 'better decisions,' hence only a few men consult their wives.

Strikingly, some educated men in public positions, who are aware of gender disparities and preach equality in public, tend to maintain a conservative lifestyle in their own households. In sum, the influence of a traditional mind-set is still strong among elderly and many young people. While the older generation of women compared their lives to that of slaves, the younger ones compared their lives to that of servants. Preference of sons over daughters "When a baby boy is born in a family, his father would proclaim: Very good! When he grows up, he will come hunting with me. But when a baby girl is born, even a crow shouts: What a pity!�

Chin Woman. (Source: Wikipedia - Jean Marie Hullot)

Women in the Customary Law "The wisdom of women does not cross the gate" Married domestic life of women After marriage, most Chin women have to move in with their husband's family. The duration of the length of the couple’s stay at their parents' house depends on the financial situation of the family, the local customs and on personal preference. In any case, if the husband is the family's heir, i.e. the youngest or oldest son, the couple has to live in his parents' house and take care of them in their old age. Majority of women preferred to move out from their parents' homes as soon as possible, citing tensions between daughters-in-law and mothers in-law in many families. Parents-in-law were often perceived as controlling, and many husbands demanded their wives to do all the household chores while restricting their freedom of movement. Husbands rarely accept the option to move to his wife's family home since they will be looked on down by the community and be called "thai-bawi" (which literally means 'slave of wife'). Gender division of labour Hard work requiring physical strength, such as clearing the forest, ploughing rice fields, or constructing a house, are considered "men's work." The rest is 'women's work' including work on the farms, collecting farm products and fire-wood for use at home, raising children, taking care of the sick and all other household chores. Some men think that the difficult tasks are for men while easier ones are left for women. But in reality, women complain that though their work seems to be easier, they have to work continuously from early morning to nightfall, with hardly any time to rest. Generally, many women are willing to take on tasks considered as 'men's tasks' as long as it is physically possible for them. On the other hand, many men appear to be reluctant to do tasks considered as 'women's tasks.'

The Chin communities are organised in a patrilineal way. Hence women cannot pass their father's clan to their children. Sons, who can carry and pass the family lineage to the next generation are favoured and referred to as 'hosts' while daughters are called 'guests', who will leave the family one day, after marriage. Due to the preference for sons in the society, married women are pressured to bear sons and often worry that their husbands might take another wife or divorce them if they are not able to bear sons. The strong preference for sons has been found to be declining, and daughters are slowly becoming more accepted than they were in the past. However, there were no Chin men who preferred having daughters than sons. Its impact The position of daughters as 'guests' is often followed by discrimination in education and inheritance practices. Many fathers consider investing in their daughters' education a waste because they will leave the family after marriage and belong to the husbands' families. Discrimination in education appears to be declining but in remote areas, sons are given priority for higher education over daughters.

Widowhood "A rotten fence and a useless wife should be replaced" The Chin customary laws do not allow widows to inherit property from their husbands. Generally, widows are allowed to continue to live in the family house while taking care of their children and managing the family properties. But if they remarry, they have to give this up. However, widows might also lose this chance to live in the family house, depending on whether she has a child. Even if a widow has children, if she is young and her chance to remarry is high, and if she is not getting along well with her late-husband's relatives, they can evict her from the family house and take custody of her children. In order to continue to live in the family house, a widow can rely more on a son, a 'host' or heir of the family, than a daughter who is considered as a 'guest.'

If a man washes his clothes or cooks for the family, he would be told by his friends and neighbours "You are a man. Why do you wash your own clothes and cook? Don't you have wife and daughters? April 2019 | 18

VIEWPOINTS Inheritance The youngest or oldest son inherits land, houses and other important family property. If there is no son, the deceased man's male relative from the same clan will inherit. Daughters inherit their mother's traditional dresses and accessories. Widows are not allowed to inherit from their husbands. The right to inherit is followed by responsibilities. The heir of the family cannot live separately but has to stay with his parents and take care of them. Some people think that whoever takes care of the parents in their old age should inherit regardless of being a son or daughter. Some fathers, who only have daughters, would like divide the property between the daughters and the male heirs. However, if they have sons, they are still favoured.

The current practice stresses more on forgiveness and reconciliation between the two families, and peace and harmony in the community while neglecting justice for the survivor. The exclusion of women from decision making processes is another barrier for women to access justice. In many cases, women have no power to decide whether to report the assault and seek formal justice or to reconcile in the traditional way. Instead, their male guardians would make decision on behalf of them. Moreover, when rape cases are resolved with customary laws, both the law makers and the judges are men. When resolving formally, the system is still dominated by men. Moreover, victim blaming, gossip, fear of losing face and earning a bad reputation discourage women from reporting rape cases and seeking justice.

Violence against women

Exclusion of women in the church

Under this topic, we will focus on two main issues, domestic violence and sexual violence outside the families. The word and idea of 'violence against women' is new to the study communities and it is still difficult for some men to accept other forms of violence except the physical and sexual.

"The crab and woman do not have religion"

Domestic violence Since women are objectified through bride price practice, this becomes one of the causes for physical violence. At the same time, it might also cause sexual violence among married couples. Physical violence is the most common form of violence women are facing in Chin communities. Women have been beaten for giving birth to girls, for not working hard enough, complaining and many other things. When women no longer can tolerate their violent husbands, how they solve often is to go back to their parents. Alcohol and drug addiction is endemic and is the most cited reason for domestic violence. Separation from their children and financial dependence are the most cited reasons for women being unable to leave their alcoholic abusive husbands. Mostly, women think that it is shameful to be beaten and try to hide it. Many neighbours and close relatives think that it is better not to intervene as women tend to change their mind after their anger cools down. Nobody reports to police or court just for being beaten but only if they want to file divorce. When a woman leaves her violent husband and seeks refuge with her parents, when her husband apologises and comes to take her back, she would be pressured to forgive and go back with him. There is no existing shelter either the civil societies or the churches for the victims of domestic violence as yet. Violence against women outside the family In the past, the Chin customary law considered sexual violence as a serious crime and the penalty often was the same as murder. Forgiveness, which has been embedded in the Chin custom, is further strengthened by Christianity and now it is applied often in solving rape cases and other physical violence.

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In traditional religious practice in Chin society, women play a crucial role in cultural ceremonies, festivals and preside over the worship of household gods. In the course of time, religious functions are gradually confined to male priests only. Even after Chin people embrace Christianity, women do not hold any significant position in the church. In the early years of Christianity in Mizoram, there were Bible women, evangelists and preachers in the Presbyterian Church. In the Baptist convention, church women were ordained as elders from early times. As a whole, women are excluded from decision-making bodies or leadership roles in most of the churches even today except in women's fellowship. However, the participation of women at the grass-root level is well recognised. Although it has been debated in PCM at various levels, the issue of women's ordination has taken a slow process. It is argued that there are no constitutional, biblical and theological problems for women's ordination but it is the problem of socio-cultural attitudes. Ordination is still confined to men folk only in the mind-set of the members too. We have only one probationary pastor in the whole of PCM till now. The structure and constitution in the church is still patriarchal with its hierarchical systems. The church has also failed to analyse gender-related issues, which is never put up in the agendas. As a result, there are imbalances in the church's theological reflection. This long absence of the female voice has impoverished the churches intellectually and spiritually. The inherited theologies and traditions have given the church legitimacy to subjugate women. Undoubtedly, our cultures have also helped to form the myths against church on women. Ultimately, these two major factors reinforce a theology that defines women as inferior to men. Hence our theological perspective has been one-sided androcentrism which has resulted in the suppression of women's theological voice. The absence of a specific contribution from women's perspective in theological thinking exposes the prevailing theology as 'a dying theology,' for it is not nurtured by the life experience of the total humanity.

VIEWPOINTS Conclusion As we have heard from our introduction, women express and turn their feelings into dancing in the church and communitarian singing. 'Dance' has become an important theological implication to identify oneself with Jesus Christ. This means a person dances to express the inner feelings/he has for Jesus because women understand from the Bible that Jesus never rejects dancing (Lk.6:23;15:25). It is assumed that 85 per cent of the dancers in the churches today are women. Critical reflections show that it is imperative for women to get involved in dancing because this is the only platform for them to express their inner joy, happiness and contentment. The church does not give women neither chance nor space to share their spiritual insights. At the same time, God speaks to them equally like men, which they need to share for the empowerment of others. Dance can be regarded as a divine intervention in human affairs especially to women whose humanhood is being denied. God would be working through dance to empower women to resist the evil forces, to give them hope for liberation and encourage them to transform the oppressive patriarchal structure of the church and society. It is a sign of personally transcending the many social and ecclesial suppressive conditions that could empower a person in the struggle for the structural transformation. For our theological reflection from the Chin women's perspective, applying "dance" as a symbol and an expression of the understanding of redeemer (Jesus Christ) became a symbol of resisting the dominating power by raising women's voices to be heard by the male partners in the church and society. Chin women feel the presence and spirit of Jesus Christ while dancing. They have acknowledged Jesus as the cosmic dancer, who is dancing with them. The understanding of Jesus as a dancer has emerged from the concrete experience of women in the ecclesial structure. The experiences of women include the total exclusion of women in the full-time ministry that denied "women's totality of being." This oppressive situation for women is expressed powerfully through dance that calls for the full liberation of women. As the Psalmist rightly sings, "You turned my wailing into dancing" (Ps. 30:11), the image of Jesus as a dancer symbolises the identification of Jesus with the suffering, the oppressed and the marginalised women. This image also symbolises Jesus as the physical and spiritual healer of human beings from their oppressive situations especially women. In order to fight against the power in the hands of men, the Chin women are feeling relief if they dare to dance in front of others. While I was preparing this paper, Roman 12:2 came to my mind: "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is‌his good, pleasing and perfect will." This message reminds me to think "out of the compartment" and with opened eyes to see situations around us. We have heard that patriarchy, men-made law and order, and customs dehumanise and violate women's dignity and humanhood.

Mrs. Van Lal Hming Sangi, the first female to head its Women’s Ministry at the Presbyterian Church of Myanmar - speaking at the Seeing Empire Seminar .

The same thing can happen everywhere with different faces. We should not turn a blind eye. We all can be part of the voice for the voiceless, speak for the marginalised and those who are vulnerable to any forms of exploitation. We should not conform to the pattern of this world. I believe each one of us can be transformed by renewing of our mind. May God grant us strength, wisdom, humility, hospitality, love and care to serve God's people who are vulnerable and have been exploited within our families, communities and churches. Amen.

Mrs. Van Lal Hming Sangi is the first woman to head the Women’s Ministry at the Presbyterian Church of Myanmar. She received her Masters in Social Analysis at Tamilnadu Theological Seminary (Madurai, India), where it gave her different knowledges and ideas how to analyse church and society and how to promote women and underprivileged classes in the country. She was also the first women secretary for Presbyterian Women General Conference.

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At the recent Seeing Empire Seminar this past February, INSiGHT sat down with some of the conference speakers to get their personal thoughts and reflections about the issue, and how it has impacted their country, community and personal life. One of them was Ljavakaw Tjaljimaraw – a lay brother of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan. Speaking from the lines of the youth and the next generation in Taiwan, he shares what empire means to Taiwanese – especially Taiwan aboriginals, and steps needed to confront it. Why was this conference important and significant for you? As a Taiwanese, I find the concept of empire very useful and meaningful. Because in the history of Taiwan, our nation has always been under the rule of various empires – the Dutch, Japanese and after World War 2, by the Chinese Nationalistic Party, the Kuomintang (KMT) regime. So in a sense, empire has almost become like a constant condition and state for the Taiwanese people. So when the Taiwanese Church introduced and started talking about it, it really struck me and really hit home for many Taiwanese, especially for Taiwanese Christians. So because of the our country’s political and social history, I feel its so important and relevant to introduce this concept to Taiwan Churches. When you speak empire to others, what has been some of the reactions and responses you have received – especially the younger generation who might view it as a rather alien or foreign concept? I’ll be the first to admit that it hasn’t been easy to get the younger generation to identify with the concept of empire. Some of them feel it’s a little too ‘academic’, and some have said it isn’t relevant to them. Even for believers, it still comes across as a fairly alien concept which they still struggle with. So yes, it is a challenge for some to identify and connect themselves with this concept. But it’s not just the younger generation. At the grassroots level, it’s also quite a challenge for many to understand empire and identify its many faces. On the positive side, there are Churches – such as the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan (PCT) who have taken the initiative to play an active role to share and educate its members about empire. An interesting side note is that many Taiwanese are aware and familiar about what it means facing an oppressive regime – such as the KMT. And in the history of Taiwan, PCT has in fact played an important role to resist the authoritarian control of the KMT regime. I think when it comes to empire and Taiwan, you can say that Taiwanese will use a different way to understand oppression, imperialism and other similar issues. Personally, I think if we want to introduce and seed greater awareness about the concept of empire to Taiwanese, I feel the best way is to put our own historical experience into it - our stories, our struggles, so people can better understand and identify with it almost immediately. 21 | INSiGHT

Along this same vein, let’s not forget that almost half of the Presbyterian congregation in Taiwan consist of Aboriginal congregations who have lived for a long time under the shadow of colonialism. So the concept of empire is especially relevant and useful to these aboriginal Taiwanese who are looking to raise their social and political status within in the regime, and also establishing and securing their aboriginal self-government status from the current Taiwanese government. In fact, I view empire as a bridge for many Aboriginals not just in Taiwan, but across the world. It is actually a bond – a link that fosters co-0peration and unity among various community bodies and different cultures. So when you talk about getting people to understand empire, I believe the best and first thing we should do is to get them to identify and understand it in their own context, in their own surroundings, in their own levels of society. When it comes to sharing this concept with the different Aboriginal groups, is there a specific call to action or message that you find particularly useful? The concept of empire is actually not new with Taiwan Aboriginals. I say this because they already have lived and been exposed to similar issues for almost three decades. Terms such as communism, liberation, economic exploitation and foreign regime are familiar words that are – and can be connected to empire. The way I see it, empire can be used as an umbrella term where it can be connected and weaved into the context of Taiwanese Aboriginals. In terms of sharing and having a specific call to action, the start point can be telling them why empire is important and relevant to them. We can tell them that empire is not a state – but a system – a system of oppression and domination that denies people the fullness of life! We then follow up by asking questions: how can we co-operate with each other to resist the system of domination? How can we come together as one to voice to be heard? How can we ask for a better life and reparation for the wrongs committed by the forces of empire? Actually, all this has been the undercurrent of the Aboriginal culture for almost three decades. It’s an on-going process and many Taiwanese aboriginals today are still trying to seek their own government from Taiwanese government. We are in the same country, but a federation.


We argue for a federation where we have different tribes of Aboriginals who have their own self-governing bodies. So it’s almost as if there is a nation to nation type of relationship within our country where both are fighting for their presence and control. So the concept of empire is particularly useful when seeding awareness and putting out a unifying message for the Aboriginal people and movement.

For some, certain issues might feel pressing and urgent - while others might have a very different view and approach to things. My view and suggestion is that East Asian churches should embark on long term programmes that can stretch over an extended period of time. This is to allow individuals – especially the younger generation

Mr. Ljavakaw Tjaljimaraw - speaking at the Seeing Empire Seminar.

But so many tribes under one message? Can everyone see the same and have the same agenda? I’m sure there are different priorities and needs according to each tribe? That is true. There are many different tribes of Taiwan Aboriginals and everyone has a different view. But that’s why we need we need an overarching concept that is easily relatable and can be applied across all tribes to resist the common threat of domination. If we enlarge our horizons, Taiwan as nation, as a country and as a whole, can apply this concept to resist the pressures of empire. One possible example is the how China is imposing itself on Taiwan as a form of empire. China continues to try to overthow Taiwan’s democracy and has implemented what I call ‘economic stranglehold’ on Taiwan. These pressing issues are faced by my country as a nation, affecting both Taiwanese and Aboriginals across all tribes – regardless of their own agenda. So putting empire into this context is very relevant and useful – especially for Taiwanese Christians, to better understand the situation, to educate others and to formulate a movement or action plan. But as I mentioned, there are certainly difficulties and challenges in applying the notion and concept of empire across the board and across to different churches in East Asia. We can talk about the concept of empire in a straight conceptual way, but when it comes to applying it to our own context, the reality of it is different communities and individuals will face empire in different shapes and forms.

to have sufficient training where they learn and get fully acquainted with neighbouring churches and cultures. Where they can have a deeper and more meaningful engagement with the church’s issues and in their context. This is opposed to a short-term programme which would probably only allow them to scratch the surface of certain issues or when dealing with such a complex issue such as empire. For example, this could come in the form of a youth exchange programme where a Church would identify a promising young lay person or volunteer in their 20’s, to do a one-year exchange programme at another church. You continue to build on this and gather momentum, and soon in time, you would have a group of ready and able leaders who understand and have innovative ideas on how to have better corporation with neighbouring Churches. You’re no longer dealing with total strangers, but with familiar faces who are on the same page as you. So I feel this preparation and raising up of leaders is effective and very much needed if we want to withstand empire together as one. We have to know our neighbours better, our comrades better, our neighbouring churches better. If we don’t know them, then we won’t know how to co-operate with each other and how to leverage on each other’s strengths and abilities. We won’t know what they can offer, and what they need. And above all, we won’t know what is their most powerful and useful missionary mode they are using in their own context. If we don’t know these facts, we don’t know how to cooperate and come together as one. April 2019 | 22


Co-operation is the key if we want to drive home the concept of empire and to be able to deal with it in our local context. This is why I really do appreciate and admire this concept that has been articulated by CWM where it encourages a sense of self critique and self-reflection – to have a deeper engagement and to better understand the mission mode of equal partnership.

These are the questions they will be asking and seeking answers to as they have a genuine interest in bringing about positive change. Every generation – young or old would have a group of these individuals who truly have a heart for God’s people and willing to go the distance in dealing with pressing social issues head on. But these people are few so the task is really to identify them, groom them and equip them to serve. What has been your key takeaway from this conference? I think learning from each other is very important.

“ When we talk about empire, we are

“ But the young generation may not care about history, or have that knowledge or experience that our elders have. How would you encourage them to embrace this concept and step up to the plate? It is always going to be a challenge – especially identifying and raising up a new generation of leaders to answer the call. But I personally think that this problem does not lie exclusively with the younger generation. Every generation is almost very reluctant to learn from their past and history – not just the younger generation. Even the older generation has its fair share of individuals who aren’t interested and don’t care. But having said that, I feel the most important factor in all of this is to choose and work with individuals who have a strong commitment to society – a strong commitment for change. We don’t want to push them to learn about history and about the past. They themselves need to have the desire to serve humankind – to know their surroundings and issues plaguing other Churches. What are the things we have in common? Our differences? Our strengths and weakness?

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I feel we should first learn its context from each other – to fully understand what situation others are facing, and use this knowledge to empower and equip ourselves. To me, I’ve found that mutual empowerment is the key. But how can we do that? I think the first step is get to know each other. And after knowing each other, we can then know what the other has to offer, and the ways that we can help each other in our own unique ways. What happens then is that it later moves on to the combining each other’s strengths to compensate for the other’s weakness. This is really what struck me at the first day of the conference – of what we can possibly make happen in the near future. If we want to withstand and resist empire together, we must first know each other. So conferences such as this is an excellent platform where our various Church leaders can come together to talk with each other, to know each other. And I hope that in time, the younger generation will be actively participating as well, and not just attending these conferences, but also taking the initiative to be fully immersed in other cultures and in the context of other member churches.

Ljavakaw Tjaljimaraw is a lay brother of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan and a patriot of Formosa. He is a Ph.D. candidate of politics, conducting his doctoral research on church-state relations and serving as a research fellow of European Research Centre of Contemporary Taiwan (ERCCT), both at the University of Tübingen, Germany. He is currently based in the Institute of Sociology, Academia Sinica, Taiwan as a doctoral fellowship recipient. He has published articles on nationalism, church-state relations, environmental governance, and indigenous self-rule.

not talking about an issue that is isolated within a region or country. It’s actually a worldwide issue faced by different communities and cultures.


By Hadje Cresencio Sadje

The European Union (EU) envisages promoting multi-ethnic and multicultural society. Since its establishment in 1992 (Treaty of Maastricht), diversity and inclusion have become the catchwords in EU policy framework directive. But, many people ask, what does it actually mean? In legal terms, the University of Washington Law School (2017) defines diversity as “Differences among groups of people and individuals based on factors such as ethnicity, race, socioeconomic status, age, gender, language, religion, sexual orientation, abilities/disabilities, and geographical area, as well as differences of experience, viewpoint, ideas, and life experiences.” Whereas, “Inclusion refers to a community methodology that supports open and respectful discussion and acknowledges the many forms of wisdom in the room. While people may have differing [sic] perspectives based on their backgrounds and experiences, all feel welcomed, respected, and valued” (2017). But, they added, “Inclusion does not mean a lack of intellectual rigor; to the contrary, it means engaging in challenging learning conversations that respect differences. In inclusive communities also strives to actively identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of diverse and marginalised groups” (2017). More or less, these definitions are widely used and accepted, especially in western societies today. For some experts, however, it is quickly becoming meaningless buzzwords. The concepts of diversity and inclusion have been subject to many powerful critiques. For instance, according to BBC News (2018) report, “Across Europe, nationalist and far-right parties have made significant electoral gains.”

BCC adds, “Although the parties involved span a broad political spectrum, there are some common themes, such as hostility to immigration, anti-Islamic rhetoric and Euroscepticism.” The rise of European far-right movements has been silenced and shut down the diversity advocate groups. They rely on the power of fear and exploits “us-versus-them” or identity politics rhetoric. Thus, achieving greater diversity and inclusivity in western societies are like for a better term, failing. Another example, the emergence of Christian right in Europe. Most European politicians capitalise on religious feeling. They offer a twisted relationship with religion and race. For example, in April 2018, Viktor Orban, a Hungarian Nationalist prime minister, vows to create “Christian homeland” as national identity. Orban says, “We have built the fence, defended the southern border.” Orban continues, “Migration is like rust that slowly surely would consume Hungary.” Orban also claims, “...Poland shares a common goal to build and defend their homeland of central Europe as national and Christian.” Obviously, Orban is committed to build a strong religious identity associated with intolerance against immigrants, specifically Muslim immigrants in Hungary. To make matters more complicated, like diversity and inclusion, “multiculturalism” has long been a hotly debated topic. Some scholars argue that when diversity and inclusion discussed, it always closely associated with multiculturalism. In notable cases like western societies, Enzo Colombo (2015) observes, the concept of multiculturalism evolves. It became a polysemy: a word or a phrase means different things to different people.

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VIEWPOINTS That is, multiculturalism continually define and redefine through a socio-cultural-political-economic landscape. Colombo added, “In fact, multicultural discussions refer to a wide variety of situations – integration policies and welfare-state regimes, the legal and political accommodation of cultural diversity, the management of immigration and national borders, the recognition and respect of cultural/religious difference, living with ‘difference’ in daily contexts, the ideological representation of identities, cultures and ‘the good society’, to name but a few” (2015). As a result, Colombo writes, “it ended up expressing quite different meanings”. Similarly, multiculturalism is under fierce attack. It was accused of being a failed social experiment in western societies. For example, Kenan Malik writes (Foreign Affairs, 2015), “Thirty years ago, many Europeans saw multiculturalism---the embrace of an inclusive, diverse society---as an answer to Europe’s social problem.” But, Malik says, “Today, a growing number consider it to be a cause of them. That perception has led some mainstream politicians, including British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, to publicly denounce multiculturalism and speak out against its danger”.

Building walls and fences: keeping people in or out.

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Malik observes that some Europeans believe that multiculturalism is a burden and the root cause of today’s problems in western societies. Anthony Giddens (2006), a prominent British sociologist, argues that multiculturalism is often misunderstood, with tragic results. According to Giddens, “Multiculturalism simply does not mean what most of its critics think. The original home of multiculturalism in Canada. Canadian philosophers and policy-makers have done most to define and elaborate the concept since Canada is quintessentially an immigrant society.” Giddens points out that Canada is one of the best examples of multicultural society. In the context of policy-making, Giddens clarifies, however, what multiculturalism means for Canadians. Giddens says, “There, multiculturalism does not mean, and has never meant, different cultural and ethnic groups being left alone to get on with whatever activities they choose. It actually means the opposite. Policy-making in Canada stresses active dialogue between cultural groups, active attempts at creating community cohesion, and the acceptance of overarching Canadian identity.” For Giddens, the Canadian government believes that multiculturalism is not what is on paper, but what is in practice.


Following Will Kymlicka, a Canadian leading philosopher, Giddens writes, “multiculturalism in Canada encourages the members of different immigrant groups to interact, to share their cultural heritage, and to participate in common educational, economic, political, and legal institutions.” Giddens suggests that genuine practice of the multiculturalism involved structural, legal, socio-cultural, and political-economic integrations. Giddens also claims, the upward mobility among immigrants (and refugees), indicates the success of British multicultural policies. Like Malik, Slavoj Žižek (2010), a Slovenian social thinker, made similar observations. Žižek writes, “Recent electoral results in the west as well as in the east signal the gradual emergence of a different polarity. There is now one dominant centrist party that stands for global capitalism, usually with a liberal cultural agenda (for example, tolerance towards abortion, gay rights, religious and ethnic minorities).”He added, “Opposing this party is an increasingly strong anti-immigrant populist party which, on its fringes, is accompanied by overtly racist neofascist groups. The best example of this is Poland where, after the disappearance of the ex-communists, the main parties are the “anti-ideological” centrist liberal party of the prime minister Donald Tusk and the conservative Christian Law and Justice party of the Kaczynski brothers.” But, Žižek offers a provocative idea on multiculturalism. For Žižek, multiculturalism is a product of liberal multicultural and individualist ideology (for example, Giddens-Kymlicka’s version of multiculturalism). Žižek points out, it was reappropriated by the liberal global capitalism. In short, multiculturalism is an agenda of the global capitalist movement. But, why does multiculturalism fail? In his public interview (including lectures), Žižek (2016) believes that liberal multiculturalist advocates have failed to address the real problem----the root cause of the problem. For Žižek, the real problem is global capitalism, a global political-economic order that systematically exploits human beings and the natural environment. Žižek sees multiculturalism as a form of euphemism that hides the inconvenient truth, using nice words and political corrections about global capitalism. Žižek argues that the multiculturalism provides (certain) space and atmosphere of equality and respect.

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Global capitalism provided some kind of public spaces to express our ideas and opinions: they even organised and funded it. For example, public debates, fora, and conferences. For Žižek, it is capitalism with a good (noble) conscience: in its subtle form. As Žižek claims, liberal multiculturalists encouraged self-identification and self-reliance but, discouraged us to question authority and to challenge the political-economic disorder. To some extent, liberal multiculturalists promote a highly individualistic culture---“you do your thing and I’ll do mine”. Žižek (2005) describes liberal multiculturalists patronising respect that puts everyone at a distance, which has been nurtured Western individualism. For Žižek, “For the multiculturalist, while Anglo-Saxon Protestants are prohibited, Italians and Irish get a little respect, blacks are good, native Americans are even better. The further away we go, the more they deserve the respect that puts everyone at distance”. Simply put, multiculturalism is often used as a means to create distance between powerful and powerless, and cement strong social hierarchy. Liberal multiculturalism is actually, Žižek says, contributing to the very process of class and cultural division: social exclusion in western societies. Unfortunately, liberal multiculturalists avoid challenging the dominant political-economic systemic problem in order to maintain its dominant ideology. Let’s get to the point, instead of presenting multiculturalism as an ideal society that humans aspire to but only imperfectly realise, one could look at multiculturalism as something continually being reinvented and achievable, but in the political economic aspect, people of colour, developing countries, and peripheries, still excluded. Others perceive multiculturalism, however, as an unfinished (modern) project that was aimed at restoring freedom, equality, and solidarity. Whether multiculturalism must be built through assimilation or adoption, Žižek (The Guardian, 2011) strongly suggests that “Europe must move beyond mere tolerance.” Concerned individuals and groups must challenge the global political-economic order. However, if they failed to address and identify the deepest root cause of global problems, the entire humanity is doomed to self-destruction and annihilation.

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VIEWPOINTS Unfortunately, it is easier for the global Christian community to imagine the end of the world (apocalyptic events) than to imagine the end of the brutal face of global capitalism. As Žižek (2011) stated, “It is easier to imagine the end of life on Earth than it is to imagine the end of capitalism.”

MOTHER Let’s keep being reminded the Scripture says, by Michael Mc Gregor

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatian 3:28

“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sit on the throne, and to the Lamb.” Revelation 7: 9-10

Hadje Cresencio Sadje is an associate member in the Center for Palestine Studies – SOAS University of London, UK. He is currently a Master student at the Evangelical Theological Faculty – Leuven and has been working with various professional and faith-based organizations, including Christian Peacemaker Team, Caritas Brussels, Peace Builders Community Philippines, and the Foundation University – Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

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VIEWPOINTS by Handsen Chikowore

JUSTICE With unjustified sewage imposed on our innocence We jump onto your waist where purity is not wasted We sing within your unperishable reservoirs Where sounds of vexations are quashed

ZIMBABWE A nation endowed with undoubted heavenly treasures Yet drink from the drains nurtured by rains from hell A territory tipped on the terrains where hope is ploughed But still torture the pregnancies that promise hope to flourish A state that is still further from violent mindsets Yet set incidents that steal the presence of peace A country that countless trees grow without any effort Yet the harvests from the farms are heavy to fathom A jurisdiction that preach free and fair elections Yet the addiction of injustice is still engrained in the blood A land that command the quest for agricultural excellence But still yield to the status that reside in desert culture

Handsen Chikowore is a passionate human rights activist and poet from the UK. He believes that through poems he is able to fight for justice and spearhead change for the better. 29 | INSiGHT

Even the poor pour belief in your leaves of fairness Which see forever and ever the pinnacle of peace



Freedom, you are so dear to me Even my dreams can’t catch your realms You are so far from my sofa Yet I am too close to your shadows Common sense seized your presence But in my mind you are dull As I can’t borrow your heart When can you reside in me?

You gather all errs and surrender them to fresh air Which aim to overturn floods and foams into fairness You divorce all misplacements of facts And crash miscarriages of justice into ashes Shouting within the realms of victory And nourishing from the mother of all equality

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Empire, Resistance, and International Solidarity by Dr. Joerg Rieger

When dealing with conglomerates of power that seek to control everything (my basic definition of empire) movements of solidarity are needed. Moreover, these movements need to develop relations with each other, and so one of the biggest challenges may well be how to build international movements of solidarity. Scholars of theology and religion can make important contributions to this project in various ways, including an in-depth reflection on how images of God have been shaped by the dominant system, what alternative images of God are at work in the various solidarity movements, and how such images can further support movements. Of course, this is not the first time that theologians have been involved in these dynamics; in recent history, several liberation theologies have done this work and in the past there have been theologies of the people which include the hymns of the African American slaves, the peasant theologies of the Middle Ages, and the political theologies of the early Christians, including the work of the apostle Paul.² The task for theologians is, therefore, not to reinvent the wheel but to continue the traditions of theological resistance in the present. Today, class issues are especially critical in forming international movements of solidarity, as they are international by design, due to the global spread of neoliberal capitalism. The fate and the hopes of workers in the United States, whether they realise it or not, are much more intimately connected to workers in other countries than to the ruling class in the United States. Race and ethnicity have often been used in top-down forms of class struggle to cover up precisely this fact, so that white workers are enticed to identify more with their white bosses than with their African American, Latino, or Asian co-workers. Nationalism and patriotism have played their own roles in these struggles. While it may sound paradoxical, working people are also connected by the fact that their employers play them off against each other as well as against the unemployed. To be sure, issues of gender, race, ethnicity, and sexuality also transcend borders and demand international movements of solidarity. Yet race and ethnicity have different histories in different contexts, and even gender dynamics are not as universal as it may appear.

This is why Muslim feminists, for instance, have often had to remind Western feminists that their struggles shape up differently and that what appears oppressive to one group may be a tool of liberation for others.3 Due to the international nature of the class struggle in neoliberal capitalism, even international solidarity in terms of gender, race, ethnicity, and sexuality can benefit from international solidarity established on the basis of class. In addition, the constructed nature of class reminds us of the constructed nature of gendered, racial, and sexual identities—including national identities—and points towards the possibility of new alliances and reconstruction. A deeper understanding of class will also help us deepen what we currently understand as solidarity. Progressives in the so-called first world have often understood solidarity as a decision of the will to support others who are less fortunate. This mindset has made positive contributions to many important projects, including fair trade, international aid, and advocacy for human rights. At the same time, this kind of solidarity has also led to a certain patronising attitude, especially when things went well, and to burnout, especially when they did not. The next step would be to consider what I am calling deep solidarity.4 Deep solidarity is based on a sense that the majority of us might be in the same boat, that the realities of class tie us together despite all our differences that must not be overlooked. Despite significant differences in terms of economics, race, ethnicity, sexuality, and gender, there are some things that tie together what the Occupy Wall Street Movement has called the 99 percent, namely the fact that most of us are no longer benefiting as much from the structures of late capitalism as we once did and that we have to work for a living. This fact ties us together across the lines of different religions as well. New interreligious alliances grow out of this struggle, based on a common struggle. As a result, religion can no longer be used as easily to destroy solidarity—a major factor in the past and present—and might contribute to the formation of deeper forms of solidarity.

This article is based on Joerg Rieger, “Empire, Deep Solidarity, and the Future of Resistance,” in: Religion and Power, ed. Jione Havea (Lanham: Lexington Books/Fortress Academic, 2019), 71-84. Used by permission. 2 Despite the fact that Paul has often been seen as a conservative, more recent work on the politics of Paul has shown his political edge in the struggle with empire. See, for instance, the work of and Neil Elliott and Richard Horsley. 3 The role of the veil is one example, as some Muslim feminists find it useful in the struggle for liberation. See, for instance, Meyda Yegenoglu, “Sartorial Fabric-ations: Enlightenment and Western Feminism,” in Postcolonialism, Feminism, and Religious Discourse, ed. Laura E. Donaldson and Kwok Pui Lan (New York: Routledge, 2002). 4 See, for example, the use of this term in Kwok Pui-lan and Joerg Rieger, Occupy Religion: Theology of the Multitude (Harrisburg, Pa.: Rowman and Littlefield, 2012), and in Joerg Rieger and Rosemarie Henkel-Rieger, Unifed We Are a Force: How Faith and Labor Can Overcome America’s Inequalities (St. Louis, Mo.: Chalice Press, 2016). 31 | INSiGHT


The notion of God’s solidarity with the oppressed and marginalised, a key insight in various liberation theologies, is sharpened in light of deep solidarity The God who is found to be in deep solidarity is not the God of the dominant imagination. In the Exodus traditions, for instance, shared by Jews, Christians and Moslems, God does not remain above the fray but takes sides and enters into the struggle of the people. In the Christian tradition of the incarnation, God joins the majority of working people in Jesus Christ, who grew up as a construction worker and maintained relations with common people all his life—thus embodying deep solidarity.

Reflections on deep solidarity that bring together these various aspects are much needed, as in the United States and other privileged countries deep solidarity was covered up for a long time, for instance, by the easy availability of credit, from credit cards to reverse mortgages, leading people to believe that the system could be made to work for them. Now that credit is no longer as easily available and much of people’s net worth has disappeared in the housing and unemployment crisis, even the middle class is becoming clearer about its place within neoliberal capitalism. Over twenty years ago some economists talked about the “Judas Economy,” pointing out that living in the First World has been beneficial for workers - this is less and less the case.5 One reason that the Trump administration in the United States is able to keep jobs in the United States is that many US jobs pay lower wages and provide fewer benefits than they once did. This is especially true in the southern states, where labour unions are weaker and where many workers work for a fraction of what workers make in other states.



The metaphorical notion of the 99 percent points to solidarity not only within the United States but also internationally, as working people in the United States share substantially more in common with workers in the Global South than with the 1 percent in their own country; even in global comparison no worker makes hundred times what other workers make, which is the differential between workers and managers even in wealthy countries like the United States. We need to repeat, of course, that the key point of this comparison is not money but power. For this reason, the 1 percent always finds itself in international solidarity, a fact that is often overlooked by the masses but never lost on the elites.

In the United States in particular, the development of deep solidarity is actively countered by various mechanisms. Race has often been used to divide those who would be natural allies in terms of class and even in terms of gender and sexuality. Throughout its history, the ruling class in the United States has maintained its power by playing off white workers against black workers. And even some well-meaning efforts at overcoming racism and sexism have unwittingly contributed to the weakening of deep solidarity. When working class white men, for instance, are made to feel that they are the main perpetrators of oppression along the lines of race and gender, they often get the false impression that their natural solidarity lies with white men of the ruling class. This helps us understand, to some degree, why in the United States so many white working-class and lower-middle-class voters supported billionaire presidential candidate Donald Trump, seemingly against their own interest. Another interesting figure is that 81 percent of white Evangelical Christians voted for Trump in the 2016 elections.

See William Wolman and Anne Colamosca, The Judas Economy: The Triumph of Capital and the Betrayal of Work (Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1997). Native American and postcolonial scholars, for instance, have pointed out that the Exodus has led to other problems as the people of Israel approached the Promised Land. Yet these ancient stories themselves need critical interpretation and negotiating, as fantasies of conquest do not need to have the last word.

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VIEWPOINTS If, on the other hand, working-class white men were to understand that whatever benefits they enjoy in terms of their race and gender positions are used by the system in order to play them off against racial minorities and women, deep solidarity might become an option. After all, white male workers have significantly more in common with black workers, female workers, and even immigrant workers and international workers than with their white employers. Unfortunately, the labour unions in the United States have not always addressed these challenges effectively, but it seems that they have learned a great deal in recent years. One encouraging example is the growing union support for immigrant labor in the United States in a climate that is growing increasingly hostile to immigrants. The military is another example for how class differentials are covered up in the United States. For many working-class people, entering the military is made to look like the ticket to a better life and an opportunity for moving up the ladder of success.

Armies, made up mostly of working-class people, are led into war against other armies also made up of working-class people, who are unaware that they are, for the most part, not fighting for their own interests but for the interests of the ruling class, with whom they are led to identify. Here, nationalism, patriotism, and religion serve as the glue that ties common people to the elites and makes soldiers on one side overlook the fact that they have more in common with the soldiers on the other side than with the elites of the same nationality who use them for their own purposes. This is the opposite of deep solidarity. In these various contexts, many of our religious traditions can help us imagine and reimagine deep solidarity. At the heart of worship in Israel is the Exodus from the conditions of slavery in Egypt and efforts to create a better life for the people. This tradition ties together the three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Interreligious dialogue is a live option not only because of shared traditions but also because deep solidarity helps us deal with our differences. In fact, differences become an asset when the resources of our different traditions are allowed to make their specific contributions to the struggle. It is in this context that we can negotiate the complexities of our traditions.6 The support for widows, orphans, and strangers in the Hebrew Bible, for instance, is often argued on the grounds that Israel itself knows what it is to be a stranger. Jesus’ message of good news to the poor presupposes an understanding of solidarity, which includes the possibility that people put themselves on the side of the poor. As the apostle Paul has pointed out, commenting on the church as the body of Christ: “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it” (1 Cor 12:26). Of course, international solidarity cannot be established overnight; tensions will remain and they do not need to be pushed under the rug. Yet the time is right and resistance to empire continues to build in many places despite challenges and setbacks. The question of deep solidarity is how we will put our differences to productive use and how unity in difference shapes up on the ground.

Joerg Rieger is Distinguished Professor of Theology at Vanderbilt University Divinity School and holds the Cal Turner Chancellor’s Chair in Wesleyan Studies. He is Founding Director, Wendland-Cook Program in Religion and Justice. Author and editor of twenty books and over 135 articles, his main interest are social movements that bring about change and the contributions of religion and theology. The full chapter of, “Empire, Deep Solidarity, and the Future of Resistance” (ed. Jione Havea, Lexington/Fortress 2019) can be read in the recently published book Religion and Power. More details are on page 36 in Take A Look.

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The CWM’s ‘Prophets from the South’ book series is a dedication to alternative and critical voices which have contributed to a theological vision of liberation and life for all. It celebrates and uplifts voices from the geo-political south, as an offering to the global Christian community to stand as an inspiration in the continued struggle for a just world. After the first book in honour of Allan Aubrey Boesak of South Africa, this second book pays homage to The Life, Legacy, and Theology of M. M. Thomas from India. A committed socialist, ecumenist and leader, Thomas emerged from the margins of both church and society and participated in the construction of alternate societies and communities based on the values of justice, equality and life. Email for more information.

This year is part of the UN International Decade for People of African Descent (2015 – 2024). As part of CWM’s vision and mission to help others achieve quality and fullness of life through Jesus Christ, CWM had been facilitating conversations on racism and modern slavery through its Legacies of Slavery Programme. "This Legacies of Slavery Project is part of the journey in which we have acknowledged that religious piety and theological niceties will not solve the problem of a broken world and that there is a need for us to look critically at ourselves." said CWM General Secretary Rev Dr Collin Cowan during the U.S hearing. Listen to Rev Cowan’s reflections in full here:

In Nepal, selling daughters for indentured servitude is called “kamlari”. Practiced traditionally in western Nepal’s indigenous Tharu community, thousands of young girls some as young as eight, work for middle-class and elite families in urban areas. However, there is a darker side to this, where countless girls suffer starvation, rape and other forms of sexual abuse at the hands of their “owners”. Qatar broadcaster Al Jazeera captured their story in this powerful short documentary.

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Bible and Theology from the Underside of Empire is a piece of work made up of stories, poems, arts, Biblical hermeneutics, subversive liturgies and provocative theological critique of power in empire “settlements”. It presents those broken by the facade of empire, with miserable experiences of health, sexuality and truth-less justice. This book is a starting point towards liberating broken bodies, colonised spaces and transgressive expression of sexuality through the living gospel of Jesus Christ that promises life in its fullness. Email for more information.


Resistance against unjust cultures and imperial powers is at the heart of scripture. In many cases, the resistance is waged against external systems or the misappropriation of scriptural texts and traditions. In some cases, however, scripture resists oppressive cultures and powers that it also requires, certifies and protects. At other times, and in different settings, the minders of scripture speak against the abusive cultures and power systems that they inherited and whose benefits they milk. Scripture and Resistance is the second book of the series Theology in the Age of Empire from CWM’s DARE 2017 conference. Email for more information.

Wresting with God in Context introduces Shoki Coe who was among the first to speak of "contextualisation" in theology. Eager to offer a creative and critical witness to Christian faith, Coe worked tirelessly to liberate theology from its Western captivity and shaped a generation of theological reflection on God, culture, and history. For thousands of students and church members around the world, Shoki Coe was the spiritual father that guided their contextual theological pursuit to the living reality of God. Yet he remains little known outside his native Taiwan. This book introduces Coe and evaluates his contributions to the field of missiology and ecclesiology. In order to reflect on his legacy, the chapters in this volume--including original essays from Stephen Bevans, Dwight Hopkins, and Enrique Dussel--tackle the critical, methodological issues related to doing theology, reading the Scriptures, and being the church. Email for more information.

Religion has power structures that require and justify its existence, spread its influence, and mask its collaboration with other power structures. Power, like religion, lies in collaboration. Along this line, Religion and Power affirms that one could see and study the power structures and power relations of a religion in and through the missions of empires. Empires rise and roam with the blessings and protections of religious power structures (e.g. scriptures, theologies, interpretations, traditions) that in return carry, propagate, and justify imperial agendas. Thus, to understand the relation between religion and power requires one to also study the relation between religion and empires. Christianity is the religion that receives the most deliberation in this book, with some attention to power structures and power relations in Hinduism and Buddhism. The cross-cultural and international contributors share the conviction that something within each religion resists and subverts its power structures and collaborations. The authors discern and interrogate the involvements of religion with empires past and present, political and ideological, economic and customary, systemic and local. The upshot is that this book troubles religious teachings and practices that sustain, as well as profit from, empires. Email for more information.

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DO YOU HAVE BURNING ISSUES TO GET OFF YOUR CHEST? Looking for an outlet to contribute your reflections on social, socio-political and economic issues which plague our world today? Is your passion taking the stand against the current structures of society, and empire?

If you want to be heard, we invite you to be part of this publication by sending your material(s) to You may also write to: C/O INSiGHT Council for World Mission Ltd 114 Lavender Street, #12-01 CT Hub 2, Singapore 338729 *We reserve the right to edit articles for space and clarity


HEAR MY CRY By Charles Z., New Zealand

Please hear my voice of pain, my voice of sadness and my utmost disappointment that the place that I used to live in, and once called home, now calls for the blood of LGBTQ people like myself. For many years, Brunei was a place where community, family and communal peace defined us as a nation. Yes, religious laws and dogma were strict but we accepted and embraced it as part of our spiritual journey. I came out as a homosexual in high school, and like many others, knew that we would never be accepted and sadly, even loved by society. Homosexuality in Brunei has always been a crime – we all knew it, were warned about it, but accepted it as a way of life. Nobody ever paid a serious price for it, and punishment was just a jail sentence. Until now. It truly breaks my heart that the Sultan has passed such a law that, in my eyes, is demeaning and a total disregard of the sanctity of human life. But why? I beg to understand why such a heinous piece of legislation must be passed over us. Haven’t we suffered enough? Haven’t we been looked at with disdain enough? And why now? We already took a first blow when the Shariah Penal Code was introduced in 2014 to boost religious and moral standards. So why the change? Is it the country’s new quest for power? Or is it attempting to position itself for greater wealth? I have read reports suggesting the Sultan is seeking to step up his Islamic credentials to get more support among the country’s conservatives due to an ailing economy. But must it come down to THIS? I personally think I will never get an answer nor will I be fully satisfied with whatever rationale they will offer in the days ahead. But whatever it is, I know we must not let this human rights abuse go unchallenged and ignored. I consider it a potential danger to LGBTQ people, and I already know of some who have fled the country and are seeking asylum. Let us remember them in our prayers, and pray that this nightmare will somehow end.

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IF YOU WERE ME AND I WERE YOU By Elisabeth Sweeney

I am a 19 year old doing my national service for the Israeli army because I have to I like you, my Palestinian counterpart, believe in my country We are both human beings although I know because of my youth and my peer group I sometimes treat you as less than a human being We both hope to live to be old men and we both dream of an end to the tensions that blight our lives – I do not want to spend my best years in a uniform standing for hours at a checkpoint And you don’t want to wait for hours while I check you through making you wait needlessly In my heart I know your concerns are far more important than just my boredom or my trouble coping with the heat of the summer in a uniform Where I have hope for travelling my country you are restricted in doing the same in yours Where I don’t need to worry if there will be electricity when I get home from my shift I know you do You need water just as I need it every day but I know the Israeli Government can punish you if we feel you have infringed our laws That is the way it is and will forever be unless and until we are stopped – we need to be stopped carrying on as if we own the world and the world owes us blinded loyalty because we are the chosen people and upon the conscience of the rest of the world What is so special about me and so bad about you? I have been thinking a lot recently while on night duty at the wall and it really does not seem fair or right that two brothers with different mothers should not be friends. In fact I have been doing some serious thinking about all these foreigners who are claiming to be Jewish just because they want a bit of real estate in the navel of the earth and come in with strange languages and customs which I have nothing in common with. Because I am only doing my job, and I know you just wish you had a job, Is there any chance that we could be friends once I ditch this uniform or is that a wild dream the type that will never happen because we both have been born in the wrong time and on the wrong side of the wall? What if we swopped places to see how the other half lives?

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I have been a Sunday school, boys & girls auxiliary teacher in the Presbyterian church for 7 years, and is something which I enjoy so much. I have taken this role in the church more than as a teacher to teach but a mission to ensure the children are loved, cared for and being led to Christ. One of my students is a girl who was born HIV positive. Her life has not been easy and when she joined the group, she was not happy. She would come to church for the boys & auxiliary sad and at times in tears because most people showed her no love and did not want to associate with her because of her status as an HIV patient. I took the first step to show her love, to seat with her alone and encourage her, to take her out with a few friends from the boys and girls auxiliary for fun. We showed her love and care, as time went by she became happier and healthy! I got involved in making sure she’s going to the clinic for her checkup and medication, to able to listen from her doctor and engage her also in programs for the HIV positive people. As time went on, we had another girl child from the group who was HIV positive but was hiding her status for fear of rejection but she came out open upon seeing how we loved everyone despite their statuses and we showed her love too. I made sure with the assistance of other teachers that we paid for these children to attend the church’s boys & girls auxiliary conferences and other activities till to date. In conclusion, to me teaching is a mission. I do not just walk to this group to talk about Jesus Christ only to the children. No, I also listen to what they are going through and find ways to help them as a teacher. I desire that to even the less privileged I can be able to help them by sending them to school, getting them clothes, food and other things needed for their lives that they are lacking.

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IN BRITAIN By Professor Anthony George Reddie, CWM Mission Secretary (Europe)

I have always been somewhat ambivalent about the European Union. My desire to vote ‘Remain’ in the 2016 Referendum was formed after taking stock of the various proponents on either side of the argument. For it seemed to me that the ‘Leave’ side seemed overly populated with Right wing proponents with whom I had little, if nothing in common, who represented the type of people with whom I would always profoundly disagree on a whole range of subjects. Whatever the merits on either side of the Referendum debate I remain convinced that the underlying socio-cultural and religious thrust of the Leave campaign was the conflation of notions of White entitlement and, as a corollary, the demonisation of Black and other visible minorities in the UK. This form of White nationalism has similar movements in other European countries such as France, the Netherlands and in Hungary, to name but three. Historical Roots The roots of Brexit lie in the growth of English nationalism that had its initial flowering during the reign of Elizabeth I. The rise of the ‘Fortress Islander’ mentality that sees ‘us’ as different from ‘them’ really begins during the reign of Elizabeth 1. The rise of English nationalism was based on notions of being different to and better than others. Underpinning the aforementioned is a subterranean theology of election that identifies Whiteness and Englishness as the defining symbol for the construct for righteousness and as a signifier for religious acceptability. This theological underpinning of English nationalism is a conflation of empire, the Church of England and conservative politics. Is it any wonder, then, that the trigger for the Referendum vote emerged from the discontentment of English nationalism from within the Eurosceptical wing of the Conservative Party – historically, one third of the religious and political repository of the establishment of English nationalism, the other two being Whiteness, alongside the Church of England.

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Impact of Brexit The Brexit vote clearly demonstrated the barely concealed exceptionalism and sense of entitlement of predominantly White English people. The clear xenophobia underpinning the leave campaign reminded many of us that ‘True Britishness’ equals Whiteness and that those who are deemed the ‘other’, be it ‘migrants’ living in the UK or ‘foreigners’ from Europe are distinctly less deserving in the eyes of many White British people. It can be argued that the romantic push for the nostalgia of the past (when Britain had the biggest empire the world has ever seen), is predicated on the intrinsic value of Britain being superior to others, often seen in terms of groups such as ‘Britain First’ or other groups on the political right who want to ‘Make Britain great again’. To quote the Black British social commentator Gary Younge “Not everyone, or even most of the people who voted leave were driven by racism. But the leave campaign imbued racists with a confidence they have not enjoyed for many decades and poured arsenic into the water supply of our national conversation.”1 It is my contention that the vote for Brexit was very much based on the presumption of White normality and the belief that the needs of poor, disenfranchised White people would be better served if the numbers of poor minority ethnic people and others from outside of the UK were reduced. The fact that so many poor White people believed such blandishments can be explained, in part, by my presumption that Whiteness remains a site for privilege notions of belonging and its concomitant identity is one embedded in paradigms buttressed by superiority and entitlement. The toxicity of the hostile climate on immigration was one that has helped to create a contemporary era in which White entitlement has reasserted itself, blaming migrants and minorities for the social ills that supposedly plague the nation. In the context of the referendum vote, I have noted the distinct diffidence with which the church responded to the phenomenon of Brexit, the success of which helped to fuel the state sanctioned cruelty of deporting member of the ‘Windrush Generation’ in 2018. In using this term, I speaking of the arrival of 492 Caribbean people at Tilbury dock on the former troop ship, the SS Empire Windrush, on 22nd June 1948. Following the arrival of this first group of Caribbean migrants, there followed approximately another two million people from the various Caribbean islands, between 1948-1965. These people were invited to the UK by the British authorities to help re-build the nation after the devastation caused by World War II and the fight to defeat Nazi Germany. These Black, Caribbean people who were deported were British citizens. They were victims of a toxic environment for which many White people voted. I have yet to find any church leader who has identified, unambiguously, with the cause of marginalised Black and minority ethnic people who have been highlighted as the expendable residue of the Brexit phenomenon. I have personally sat in meetings and watched and listened to predominantly White leaders pander to the toxic rhetoric that targeted Black people and minority ethnic migrants in order to placate the wounded psyche of White privilege and entitlement. Ironically, their diffidence showed more care for dissatisfied and disillusioned poorer White people who largely do not attend their churches as opposed to Black migrants who do so, in disproportionately large numbers – often maintaining inner cities after they had been vacated by ‘White flight’ in the 1980s and early 90s. The Challenge to be One in Christ It can be argued that along with the National Health Service and London Transport, British churches have been the greatest beneficiaries of Caribbean migration in particular and immigration in general. And yet, half of all British Christians, presumably belonging to these churches were still happy to vote for Brexit, which included a marked negativity aimed at migrants and immigration, aimed at the very people who revitalised their own churches! Yet, it is clearly the case that all Christian traditions and denominations have been the greatest beneficiary of immigration in Britain, particularly, through the legacy of the Windrush Generation.

1 For an insightful left-wing critique of Brexit that challenges class based notions of privilege and explores notions of White entitlement and racism, see the following link. (Accessed 23rd May 2017)

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Whether in terms of revitalising predominantly inner city churches in Britain, within White majority ‘Historic’ churches like the Church of England and many of her ecumenical partners, like, Catholic, Methodist, URC and Baptist, or with the rise of African and Caribbean Pentecostal churches, British Christianity would be in a parlous state without Black migrants. This is certainly the case for URC, which has probably been the greatest beneficiary of Caribbean migration amongst the member churches of CWM in the United Kingdom. Black Christianity in Britain can be said to have emerged via the mass migratory movement of Black people from Africa and the Caribbean in the years following the end of the Second War. The Brexit vote was a nationalistic, White centred event that cynically used migrants as the scapegoat for the problems of the nation. The undercurrents of Brexit was a rejection of multiculturalism and the legacy of Windrush that has brought the infusion of new Christian faith communities and radical collective living born of Caribbean values and our African heritage into this nation. I would interpret the legacy and the importance of the Windrush in light of the story of Pentecost. I continue to believe that the narrative of the first Pentecost has much to teach us as we struggle with the continued challenge of embracing and affirming difference in our post Brexit life in 21st century Britain. Pentecost has a special resonance for our increasingly plural and complex nation, because any careful reading of this text affirms notions of cultural difference. If physical and linguistic differences are themselves part of the problem for many people who voted for Brexit, then what are we to make of a text in which these differences are visibly celebrated? Part of the legacy of Windrush is the very form of physical and linguistic differences that one sees in the Pentecost event – which is the distinct contradiction of Brexit. Whatever the merits of leaving the European Union, it is my prayer that this nation will finally come to terms with the fact that ethnic and cultural difference has been great boost to Christianity in Britain and the church would be all the poorer without us. A key response of British churches to Brexit has to be in two directions. First, to affirm difference and recognise it as a theological gift, as seen in Pentecost. Then, second, British churches must be committed to anti-racist action. This is necessary if Christianity is to preserve its cherished belief as being one, holy, catholic and apostolic body. In an age of Trump, Brexit and the growing instances of White, nationalistic populism, White Christianity must remain committed to the liberative qualities of Christ as its true Lord and Saviour and reject the heresy of White superiority. The quest for equity, liberation and justice is one that requires the committed determined action of all peoples, irrespective of faith commitment (plus those who profess to hold no such notions). This also requires truth telling and a retreat from all forms of obscured talk that blind us to the structural and systematic forms of racism that continue to oppress Black people and other minority ethnic people in Britain and across wider Europe. Whether we wish to acknowledge it or not, privilege and notions of who is important, has a colour. Similarly, systemic power and notions of belonging and what is deemed acceptable also has a colour. The task of unmasking the privileged construct of Whiteness is not a task for Black and minority ethnic Christians only. Conversely, the task of effecting the systemic and structural changes that better reflect the Kingdom of God within the Europe region is a task for us all. The failure to name and unmask these forms of unearned privilege has been, for me, the most telling indictment of White Christianity in Britain, which in turn, has besmirched the very concept of the universality of the Body of Christ.

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The universality of the Body of Christ of the church is imperilled in the age of Trump, for whom a majority of White evangelicals in the US voted. This is equally the case within the British context, when the vote leave campaign was predicated on a rampant xenophobia and racism aimed at non-White people, for which many White Christians also voted. The challenges of John 13: 21-35 are real and have bedevilled White Christianity in Britain for centuries. This new commandment from Jesus sits at the heart of the Christian message and has implications for those inside and outside the community of faith. Inside the faith, the followers of Christ are asked to love another for ‘by this, everyone will know that you are my disciples’ (v.35). The way in which the followers love one another will be a sign of their commitment to and belonging within the common life of faith in Christ Jesus. The task of challenging the toxicity of White privilege is necessary if the universal and inclusive understanding of the Christian faith is to be maintained in the Europe region, particularly, within the UK, in 4 of the 5 member churches are located. The church must be at the forefront in the fight for and support of those on the margins who are being scapegoated by the majority White communities across Europe. Christianity must be committed to a ruthless and fiercely argued critique of all forms of privilege that suggests that some people matter more than others. The churches in the UK and in wider Europe must challenge the rise of White nationalism and the narrowness in how identities as to who truly belongs in what has traditionally been defined as a ‘White Christian continent’. Christianity and churches must show a different way!

Professor Anthony G. Reddie is the new Mission Secretary for Europe with CWM. This article is a part of a larger piece of work that is linked to his forthcoming book Theologising Brexit: A Liberationist and Postcolonial Critique (Routledge, c.2019).

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By Hadje Cresencio Sadje, Belgium

“The legacy of modernity is a legacy of fratricidal wars, devastating "development," cruel "civilisation," and previously unimagined violence. Erich Auerbach once wrote that tragedy is the only genre that can properly claim realism in Western literature, and perhaps this is true precisely because of the tragedy Western modernity has imposed on the world.” Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire (2000: 46) The quotation above describes the Christchurch mosque massacre as one of the legacies of Western unimagined violence. In Global Peace Index report (2008-2018), New Zealand ranked as the world’s 2nd safest country. But, after the terrible crime, Christchurch mosque massacre shows that no place is safe today. It is also considered as the deadliest massacre in New Zealand's history. As expected, the Christchurch mosque massacre elicited a garnered outrage, frustration, and fear. It sparked widespread outrage over the merciless killing of innocent and defenceless Muslim people. What is extremely disturbing? Brenton Tarrant (a 28 years old Australian citizen) live streamed while carrying out his unprecedented attack on two mosques that 50 people had been killed and 50 others wounded. As if Tarrant was expecting viewers to enjoy that brutal or heartless scene. After a manhunt, the New Zealand police captured Tarrant and charged him with a crime. In recent years, scholars offer various explanations why an act of terrorism continues. Terrorism is a multicausal phenomenon (many reasons).

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For example, Özgür Özdamar (2008) argues that there are five major approaches to understand the act of terrorism: instrumental, organisational, political communication, economic, and psychological reasons. Özdamar suggests that pulling the five approaches together provides a holistic understanding of terrorism. However, some scholars argue that terrorism is the result of global capitalism, specifically global inequality and the US war industry---War on Terror. In an exclusive interview with Renegade Economist (2013), for example, Noam Chomsky argues that the US and its allies created a culture of jihadist that supported by Saudi Arabia. For Chomsky, following the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, it creates more terrorists. Likewise, Genc Mekaj and Kreshnik Aliaj (2018) argue, “Terrorism is a phenomenon that has spread over the last two decades. It is precisely the Middle East countries that are most at the center of these attacks. And why concrete causes are not the spread of terrorism rapidly in the last two decades, it is said and thought to have spread because of globalisation. The greater the effect of globalisation, the higher the level of terrorism.”

YOUR SAY Today, many people ask questions that have not been properly addressed. First, why “white supremacy” ideology and expression persist? An article entitled, “White Supremacy has always Mainstream” (2018) by Stephen Kantrowitz provides a general account of twentieth-century white supremacy. Kantrowitz describes, “White supremacy connotes many grim and terrifying things, including inequality, exclusion, injustice, and state and vigilante violence. Like whiteness itself, white supremacy arose from the world of Atlantic slavery but survived its demise.” White supremacy is like a wind that never disappeared, especially in Western societies and mainstream media. But, why did white supremacy survive and persist, actually? In America, for example, Kantrowitz argues that conservative feminist movement, former US military activist, political, and economic institutions serve as constant gardeners of the ideology of white supremacy. In short, both individual agency and social structure legitimise a racial system that produces racial hierarchy and exclusion. Critics say all crimes related to racism and white supremacy (white power) will persist unless people dismantle structural evil (structural violence). Obviously, this could be seen how white supremacy present in the Christchurch massacre. For instance, some people get frustrated with the scourge of white supremacy appears publicly. During the initial court appearance, Tarrant showed no remorse for his heinous crime. In fact, Tarrant made a gesture of “white power” (white supremacy) symbol in court. According to New York Post (2019), “Tarrant, who was handcuffed and clad in a white prison jumpsuit, made an “OK” hand gesture during his appearance — a symbol used by white nationalists and racist internet trolls, according to a photo published by the New Zealand Herald.” In addition, Paul B. Sturtevant, author of “The Middle Ages in Popular Imagination”, argues that “They’re using their messed-up concept of the Middle Ages as a recruitment tool, and that’s a huge problem”. Aside from this, scholars and activists decry how mainstream media represented Tarrant. For example, BBC and Daily Mirror (2019) portrayed Tarrant as an “angelic boy who grew into an evil far-right mass killer”. Contrary to Westminster Attack in 2017 committed by Khalid Masood, where he killed four people on Westminster Bridge, UK.

According to Can Erözden, “... BBC had called 2017 Westminster attack as "Westminster Terror Attack". Another example, according to Christopher Ingraham (2017), the study shows that the “black men who commit the same crimes as white men receive federal prison sentences that are, on average, nearly 20 percent longer [sic], according to a new report on sentencing disparities from the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC).” In short, as Luise Mushikiwabo, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Rwanda, correctly pointed out (2019), “...the lighter skinned you are, the less guilty you are”. Second, are people really secure under the Pax Americana with its new gospel of War on Terror? After the Christchurch massacre, fear stoke fears about global security issues. Critics say, national and human security is an illusion offered by global capitalist (dis)order. Undoubtedly, the security of one state is misleading and failed security measures. A vicious cycle of terrorist attacks, for example, the global and domestic counterterrorism strategy has failed to address some serious (real) problems. Some critics observe that they are not willing to address the real problem that contributing systematically to the emergence of intra-and inter-state conflicts. For instance, NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization, 2018) reduces the counterterrorism into awareness of the treat and “...developing capabilities to prepare and respond, and enhancing engagement with partner countries and other international actors.” But Peter Tarlow (2017) goes one step further, he says, “...a mix of ignorance, poverty, oppression, repression, exclusion, marginalization and occupation explain the phenomenon of terrorism.” Of course, Tarlow’s explanation does not apply to Tarrant as a white “extremist, right-wing, and violent terrorist” described by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (2019). On the other hand, an act of terrorism does not limit to sexual orientation, ideological orientation, ethnicity, religious affiliation, caste, and national origin. Simply put, anyone can be the direct and indirect victims of terrorism. Sadly, people preferred to understand the evildoer than looking at the heinous crime as part of a greater systemic problem. Mostly, interventions (state and non-state actors) focused on behaviour disorder that led to behavioural modification.

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YOUR SAY Dealing with individual issues is something that is important but, challenging the structural injustices must be included, pronounced, and imperative. Critical scholars must be naming and reframing global capitalism as the root cause of terrorism. Although Global Terrorism Index (2018) report shows, deaths from terrorism fall 44%, but terrorism remains a widespread phenomenon nowadays. As mentioned earlier, unless the global capitalism (like Western military intervention & military-industrial complex) challenge and dismantled; failure to do so, racism, white-supremacy, extremist, radicalisation, massive poverty, inequality, exclusion and violence persevere. Lastly, the one million dollar question, does religion involved in the Christchurch terrorist attack? Surprisingly, religion seems the indirect cause of the terrorist attack, particularly Islam. In the reverse case, however, Muslim become the central target of white-supremacy terrorist activity, particularly in western societies. For example, the Christchurch terrorist attack has become an absurd reality because it defies the stereotype about Islam. People are commonly thought that only Muslim extremists could commit such atrocities. But people were wondering when hate crime and violence started targeting the Muslim community? Although anti-Islam sentiment existed long before modern civilisation, Islamophobia has become mainstream. In modern times, according to Gallup Poll (2011), “Islamophobia existed in premise before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, but it increased in frequency and notoriety during the past decade”. Hate crime and violence against Muslims increased significantly after the 9/11 attack. Also, Gallup Poll (2011) stated, “Researchers and policy groups define Islamophobia in differing detail, but the term's essence is essentially the same, no matter the source: An exaggerated fear, hatred, and hostility toward Islam and Muslims that is perpetuated by negative stereotypes resulting in bias, discrimination, and the marginalisation and exclusion of Muslims from social, political, and civic life”. Similarly, Daniel L. Byman, a senior fellow of the Center for Middle East Policy (2019) writes, “...words have consequences. The demonisation of Muslim communities, often by politicians who later act shocked and angry when violence occurs, contributes to societal polarisation and inspires violence”.

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For Byman, the inflammatory anti-Muslim headlines (ex. negative stereotypes, bias, discrimination, etc.,) in the mainstream media fuels the hate crime and violence against Muslims---later become known as “Islamophobia”. Evidently, the Christchurch terrorist attack is clearly seen as a concrete case of Islamophobia. Today, there are a large number of bad press and outright lies have been intentionally circulated about Islam. According to Michael Jetter (2018), “Today, terrorism is quickly linked with religion to be more precise, with Islam”. Jetter added, “When a terrorist attack occurs in the Western world, the media is quick to talk about ‘Islamist extremists’, ‘religious fundamentalists’, ‘Muslim terrorists’ and other catchy terms that conveniently link a whole religion to violent destruction”. For Jetter, it is time the Western mainstream media treated Islam/Muslim fairly. At the same time, the Muslim community must help people better to understand some issues related to Islam to address the enormous amount of misinformation that already exists. For the Christian community, in order to have a healthy dialogue about Islam, it is important to cut through the misrepresentations, falsehoods, stereotypes, myths, and misconceptions. Whether religion and non-religion is directly involved with a terrorist attack, people should at least be suspicious and critical of hate crime and violence against Muslims. Or, white-supremacists/right-wing nationalists pretending to be a vanguard of Christian values. Certainly, white-supremacists are ignorant of their own religious beliefs. In an article entitled, “Terror in the Name of Religion” (2016), by Pekka Rautio, factually describes that “...radicalised people had three things in common: they were young, male, and had a poor understanding of their own religion. In conclusion, an invitation to critically reflect on the “A Statement from Christian Ethicists Without Borders on White Supremacy and Racism" (2017): As followers of Jesus Christ and as Christian ethicists representing a range of denominations and schools of thought, we stand in resolute agreement in firmly condemning racist, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, and neo-Nazi ideology as a sin against God that divides the human family created in God’s image.

YOUR SAY White supremacy and racism deny the dignity of each human being revealed through the Incarnation. The evil of white supremacy and racism must be brought face-to-face before the figure of Jesus Christ, who cannot be confined to any one culture or nationality. Through faith we proclaim that God the Creator is the origin of all human persons. In the words of Frederick Douglass, “Between the Christianity of this land and the Christianity of Christ, I recognise the widest possible difference.” The greatest commandments, as Jesus taught and exemplified, are to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves; and so as children of God, and sisters and brothers to all, we hold the following: We reject racism and anti-Semitism, which are radical evils that Christianity must actively resist. We reject the sinful white supremacy at the heart of the “Alt Right” movement as Christian heresy. We reject the idolatrous notion of a national god. God cannot be reduced to “America’s god.” We reject the “America First” doctrine, which is a pernicious and idolatrous error. It foolishly asks Americans to replace the worship of God with the worship of the nation, poisons both our religious traditions and virtuous American patriotism, and isolates this country from the community of nations. Such nationalism erodes our civic and religious life, and fuels xenophobic and racist attacks against immigrants and religious minorities, including our Jewish and Muslim neighbors.

We also humbly call upon all Christians, whose baptismal waters are thicker than blood, to resist this evil by committing themselves to: Contemplate and respect the image of God imprinted on each human being. Work across religious traditions to reflect on the ways we have been complicit in upholding and benefiting from the sins of racism and white supremacy. Pray for the strength and courage to stand emphatically against racism, white supremacy, and nationalism in all its forms. Participate in acts of peaceful protest, including rallies, marches, and at times, even civil disobedience. Do not remain passive bystanders in the face of the heresies of racism, white supremacy, and white nationalism. Engage in political action to oppose structural racism. We will bring the best of our traditions to an ecclesial and societal examination of conscience where rhetoric and acts of hatred against particular groups can be publicly named as grave sins and injustices. Finally, as ethicists, we commit—through our teaching, writing, and service—to the ongoing, hard work of building bridges and restoring wholeness where racist and xenophobic ideologies have brought brokenness and pain.

We confess that all human beings possess God-given dignity and are members of one human family, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, or country of origin. We proclaim that the gospel of Jesus Christ has social and political implications. Those who claim salvation in Jesus Christ, therefore, must publicly name evil, actively resist it, and demonstrate a world of harmony and justice in the midst of racial, religious and indeed all forms of human diversity. Therefore, we call upon leaders of every Christian denomination, especially pastors, to condemn white supremacy, white nationalism, and racism.

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US AND ‘THEM’ By Geremy Tsai, Hong Kong

Recently in Singapore, over 14,000 names and addresses of people living with HIV status were released on the internet and promoted a huge outcry from many parties – especially the LGBTQ community. Amidst all of this, one word seemed to glaringly pop up at me as I was following this unfortunate development. The word was FEAR. And that got me thinking: why fear? After all, societies and communities across the world have certainly progressed in the understanding and accepting the 30 plus year old virus. And we have made significant strides in embracing and loving people living with AIDS, welcoming them into our homes and working alongside them in the marketplace. So why the fear? A close friend of mine who was one of the victims of the leaked registry said he was so worried that his family and colleagues would change their perception of him when they found he has AIDS. I then realised it is a very real and terrifying fear for some who worry about the impact of disclosure of one’s HIV status to employers, family, friends, and other loved ones. It therefore becomes obvious and logical for someone to hide his/her HIV-positive status to avoid the possibility of discrimination or rejection from family, friends and colleagues. And that’s where it hit me – the two faced façade that society so conveniently hides behind when coming face to face with people with AIDS. On one side - a welcoming caring ‘politically correct’ front. And on the flip side, a paranoid, biased and often judgemental view full of double standards and contradictions. My friend’s fear of being judged and ostracised by people around him is warranted, and very real. When he was working at a restaurant, he was told by his manager that he was not allowed to handle food or be inside the kitchen at any point in time as it was all about ‘protecting’ the customer and being on the ‘safe side’. I remember him telling me that, "Society may be tolerant to the LGBT community, but I do not think they are ready to accept a gay and HIV-positive individual. Not in my lifetime." Why are HIV/AIDS sufferers treated with such disdain? Why are they dealt the double or triple blow of not only being afflicted by this disease but also the pain of losing both material and financial freedom, or worst of all, their emotional and social support? How are they different from anyone of us who might suffer from heart disease, diabetes, or cancer. Is a smoker who develops lung cancer faced with similar prejudice? Some feel the answer lies in the fact that this disease is ‘contagious’. But then so is SARs, H1N1, and TB. I feel that the answer lies with the simple fact and hard truth that we in fact pre-judge HIV/AIDS sufferers, and formulate our own naïve deductions on how and why they contracted the virus. We think long and hard about what lifestyle they lead, what sort of people they associate themselves with.

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I’ll be the first to admit that I certainly have had these thoughts and pre-conceived notions when someone tells me they have AIDS. It’s just so convenient to point and label HIV infection as the result of personal irresponsibility or moral fault that deserves to be punished. The fact of the matter is this: when we hear that a child has contracted HIV, we feel bad for them and tell ourselves it's not their fault. But when we learn about the drug addict or the person who engages in risky sexual behaviour, we say "they deserve it". To me, there is yet another serious pressing issue that is even more worrying and one that must be brought to light. It is the social rejection and exclusion that stems from stigma and discrimination against women living with the AIDS. As much we hate to believe and accept it as fact, women and girls often fear stigma and rejection from their families - not only because they stand to lose their social place of belonging, but also because they could lose their housing, their children, and their ability to survive. In some cultures, HIV is seen as a 'punishment' for immoral or bad behaviour, even if the woman was living an upright lifestyle and innocent of any illicit immoral behaviour. Combine all of this with the isolation and shame that social stigma brings leads women and many others to a path of low self-esteem, depression, and even eventually thoughts or acts of suicide. Elsewhere, countries such as Thailand have not gone unscathed. In fact, stigma and discrimination has reached even the younger generation. Teachers routinely bar HIV-positive children from classes, and University students risk expulsion from their quest for higher learning if they are tested and found to be HIV positive. Late last year, a news report revealed the authorities in the province of North Sumatra barred three HIV-positive orphans from attending school, yielding to the demands of worried parents. In the above cases, better laws and legislation are most definitely needed to protect people living with AIDS. There also needs to be greater transparency and accountability from governments, as well as pharmaceutical companies who need to be challenged on medicine patents and treatment access. What does the above tell me? Progress? I beg to differ. I feel that our views and attitudes towards people living with HIV have not moved beyond the prejudice, discrimination and judgemental views that dominated the early years of the AIDS epidemic. So where do we go from here? I think the very first thing is to blatantly admit that stigma and discrimination still exists. Instead of hiding behind falsehoods and jumping on the ‘politically correct’ bandwagon, let’s confront our internal unconscious prejudices head on. Let’s be the first one to acknowledge that we have indeed paused to judge and let our narrow-minded human nature take over instead of stepping forward to embrace them in our arms. After all, HIV is not a moral failing, and is certainly not us and ‘them’.

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RESPONSIBILITY By Movie Buff, Netherlands

I recently watched Spotlight, the Oscar-winning film based on a true story in the Catholic Church. An Editor from the Boston Globe had assigned his journalists to investigate the alleged coverup of sexual abuse of children by clergy in the Archdiocese of Boston. As the story unfolded, the journalists discovered that not only was the rampant child abuse endemic, affecting more victims than reported, but there were also coverups for the errant priests by putting them on sick leave, or simply re-assigning them to another location. It tells a compelling story of systemic flaws and human failings. Many victims fit a pattern – coming from an unstable, possibly single-parent home, the honour and privilege a child thought he received when the priest initially asked him to complete an innocuous task (“It was like God asking a favour of me, you know?”), and their subsequent helplessness and confusion from the grooming. For some of the victims who reported what happened to them to a trusted adult, a higher authority such as a bishop, also tried to persuade them to let the matter rest. The journalists also found out that the legal system had been complicit - courthouse records had been hidden or removed, and lawyers who acted for these priests managed to reach private settlements with the victims, therefore not leaving a paper trail. One of the lawyers summed this up in a brilliant, poignant remark:

“If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to destroy one too.” The Boston Globe team eventually spoke to all 70 victims and published the story. Following this, the newsroom received many calls, mostly from victims who came forward, and they later ran 600 more stories. The film ends with a list of states and countries where abuses were uncovered, reinforcing the fact that it is a global phenomenon. It was equally infuriating and saddening to know that young lives were destroyed by drug abuse, self-harm, suicide, and other mal-adaptive ways victims used to cope with their ordeals later on in their lives. One recalcitrant priest when approached by a reporter, even said that his actions were not wrong because he didn’t derive any pleasure from his acts, and that he should know better what rape is, because he was also raped as a child. How depressing it is, that religion was not “the opiate of the masses”, and that many victims would have been better off without it. Reel life doesn’t seem too far away from real life here.

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In August 2018, a Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report released a report that revealed details of how bishops built and maintained a system covering up abuse and priests who preyed on the innocent for 70 years. The dossier contained evidence of what looked to be a criminal conspiracy that spanned more than the six dioceses of the Commonwealth. The Archbishop of Boston and President of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, Cardinal Sean O’Malley also began investigation into allegations involving the flagship seminary of his archdiocese. Former Archbishop of Washington Theodore McCarrick, 88, was forced to resign as a cardinal when he faced allegations of him sexually abusing a minor, and this opened the floodgates to allegations of misconduct by priests and seminarians. For McCarrick, a Vatican investigation found him guilty of sexual transgressions involving both adults and minors, having solicited sex during confession. According to news reports in February 2019, McCarrick was the highest-ranking churchman in living memory to be defrocked. Defrocking is the most severe ecclesiastical punishment for a priest, who is reduced to the status of a lay person and is no longer allowed to lead mass. An unprecedented global summit was convened in mid-February by Pope Francis to address issues of child sexual abuse, its coverup and protection of minors in the Catholic Church – a sign that the crisis has become global, with scandals erupting in Australia, Chile, France, Germany, Ireland and the United States, without signs of diminishing. Closer to the time of this article, there was a live broadcast on March 13 of the sentencing of Vatican’s former finance minister, Australian Cardinal George Pell, for child sex crimes, in a rare move by the local judiciary. Pell is now the most senior Catholic clergyman to be found guilty of child sex abuse, and faces a maximum 50 years in prison for assaulting two choirboys in a Melbourne cathedral in 1996-1997.

The investigation uncovered at least 700 cases of child sexual abuse by church ministers, youth pastors, Sunday School teachers, deacons and volunteers. It revealed that since 1998, more than 380 instances were “convicted, credibly accused, and successfully sued, and confessed or resigned”. With power comes responsibility, and left unchecked without accountability and integrity, can result in a tragedy of epic proportions. In the movie, it was depressing to see how God’s grace and forgiveness can be misused to justify and excuse such perversion, and horrifying that covering up for perpetrators has enabled such heinous acts to continue and become more widespread. How do you weigh the destruction of young lives against the charity and goodwill religion has done for a community? What does it say of people who are conferred prestige and status as they are perceived to be called and chosen by God to act for and on behalf of its people? Major reform is necessary, not only for the sake of Pope Francis’ calls for care for creation and his legacy, but also the reliability of the papacy as a voice of morality in this depraved world. Spotlight is not an anti-Catholic movie. Rather, what it does is giving voice to alarm and to those in deep pain, who have been voiceless for too long. I see in it a sliver of faith and hope that the institution and the ordained can repent and be renewed, to act justly against the abusers of the church. Many are looking to them to resolutely protect the innocent, and possibly be God’s instruments to bring comfort and healing to the broken and hurting. The Church urgently needs to continue taking steps to address this issue to avoid being a stumbling block to both the faithless and faithful who may be reaching out to and seeking God in this heartbreaking catastrophe, because one traumatised child is definitely one victim too many.

Clerical sexual abuse is not a new issue nor is it confined to the Catholic tradition. Recently, two Texas newspapers also published an investigation into the Southern Baptist Convention - the second-largest Christian denomination in the United States after the Catholic Church.

April 2019 | 54



WEAK FLESH By Retrospective, South East Asia

Matthew 26:40-43 (NIV) 40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” To quote Mahatma Gandhi who once famously said: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” And this statement rings true, for change can only be brought about – with absolute conviction and determination in one’s actions, and the will and perseverance to see it through from start to finish. In a way, it would be lofty to think that if this could apply to every person, and wouldn’t the world have already become a better place for its inhabitants. However, Jesus pointed out that humans are innately weak in the flesh, easily tempted by the easier way out, procrastinating on issues that requires immediate attention with – is simply in our nature. Change is an enticing and alluring concept if it’s tied to positive connotations. People typically are highly receptive of positive changes in their lives, surroundings and environments, and to the people around them. But the question is if they were to take on the role of being the change makers, initiators and “rallier”, does the receptiveness remain steadfast?

55 | INSiGHT

The easy answer to that is no. And why is this so? Which brings me to the point of “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”. Perhaps it is human nature to turn to self-preservation, a self-centered, stingy, selfish parcel of nugget that resides deep within our hearts, that gears us to think for ourselves first, prior to others. Then there is self-doubt, assuming that one’s abilities are not greater than others, hence the act of contribution would not make mountains tremble, let alone – move them. Or people are purely downright lazy, and that it’s better to leave the work to others as it’s easier and lesser commitment to give support in the spirit than in the flesh. Either way, the change we want to see happen will never materialise unless we see to it that it happens. There are approximately two billion Christians in the world today. But where were they when atrocities were meted out in the form of mass murders and ethnic cleansing of the Christian population, persecuted by the countries in which they reside? Countries in the Middle East, Africa and Pacific have continuously been detrimental to their Christian citizens, rendering them to destitution or death - it is expected that Christians may be fully eradicated in these countries in time to come. But what efforts have been offered by the fellow Christian counterparts who are reading the news in the comfort of their own homes?


Or have predominantly Christian governments or organisations vehemently expressed strong opinions to these countries in seeking an end to the massacres and displacements of innocent residents of the Christian faith? Certainly, heinous injustices of such magnitude deserve greater resistance with more willingness in both spirit and flesh? As Christians, it is in our duty to evangelise the Word and spread the faith to every living person in our immediate community or out to the furthest reaches of the world. As far as most of us would be willing to go in doing that, is to share the word of God to people closest in proximity to us, as long as it is done within our comfort zones and grounds of familiarity. In the unfortunate case of the American, John Allen Chau, who tried spreading the gospel to the isolated group of Sentinelese people, and who had then later lost his life to the same tribe that he was trying to save with God’s word – is a case of devout willingness in both flesh and spirit. Many were split in their opinions of the situation, where one camp felt that he did what he had to and it was courageous and commendable, and the other retorting on how foolish he was to have lost his life so frivolously despite being advised on all the cautionary tales.

But imagine stepping into the shoes as the disciple of the son of God who had instructed you to keep watch with him for a mere hour without falling asleep, but eventually you still do, even after witnessing the many miracles Christ has demonstrated in the journey with him – does insinuate that John Allen Chau’s faith is a lot stronger than those who had seen the son of God in the flesh. But in no way, this is to suggest that people should go losing their lives to uncontactable tribes every now and then just to justify their faith. But what John Allen Chau did, undisputedly, was not futile, as his actions would undoubtedly create ripples in the calm of weakness to wake the spirit in others. Jesus died on the cross to save us from sin. Jesus wanted change and at the given circumstance, he made the ultimate sacrifice by giving his life, to be crucified and die on the cross in order to see us being delivered from the bond with sin. Jesus’s radical love demonstrated that he desired the change for us in finding salvation and he made sure that we did. That being said, our daily sacrifices to influence change need not lead us to life-threatening situations, but what is required of us is the willingness in both spirit and flesh, to champion with conviction at walking the talk based on our belief systems. The act of indifference or being oblivious to issues close to us and not doing anything about it goes against the teachings of Christ. Thus said, if we are all for change, there would be no excuse to not be a part of that change and in making it happen, which is better than doing absolutely nothing at all.

April 2019 | 56

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