Issue 3 July - September 2009 â‚Ź3.50
FAITH LIFE REALITY
Spirit andtruth Exploring and celebrating diversity in worship
The safest place?
Waves of Mercy
HIV and the church in Ireland
Meet surf champion John Mc Carthy
VOX | Jul - Sep 2009 | 1
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Images thanks to: Amanda Burke, Caroline Connaughton and Tim Laughlin
HAVE YOUR VOX MOMENT
editorial Safe? Two brilliant musicians were delighting the audience with a feast of Irish music. Oblivious to the discomfort of being squeezed 14-to-arow, I loved every minute. Until that song. It was written over 30 years ago; a ballad recounting the suffering of the Magdalene girls. The song’s stark message hit me with an almostphysical pain. Still reeling from the revelations of the Ryan report, I sat with tears streaming down my face. I experienced the same reaction when Michael O’Brien spoke on “Questions and Answers”. Suffering touches our lives every day. Yet the Ryan report highlights suffering inflicted by those who claim to represent God. It reveals that the most vulnerable in our society were sent to institutions run by ‘religious’ people where they were exposed to neglect and emotional, physical and sexual abuse. What can I, as a Christian, say to victims whose cruel abusers use the same title? The easy route is to point fingers or to take the high ground (“It would never happen in my church… we would never do that… the abusers obviously were not real Christians…”) But blaming others will not correct the impression of a “Christianity” that mistreats and abuses children.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.” Isaiah 58:10
Now is a time for humility, for honesty and for taking a long hard look at ourselves to ensure that the terrible attitudes and actions of the past can never be repeated. This is not a time to protect ourselves but to ‘spend ourselves’ on behalf of those who are most vulnerable and most in need. It is a time for repentance (see page 30) and for asking the tough questions about our churches and about ourselves. Are our churches safe places for those who are vulnerable, those who are marginalised or rejected by society? Take HIV for example (see page 10)– would someone living with the virus find a welcome in our churches? Or would the suffering of their HIV status be compounded by condemnation and stigma from within the church? Christians cannot answer the Ryan Report with rhetoric. We need to be people whose lives are characterised by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control. Ruth Garvey-Williams Editor (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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FAITH LIFE REALITY
July - September 2009, Issue 3 ISSN: 2009-2253 Publisher Solas Publishing
COVER STORIES The safest place…? – HIV and the church in Ireland Spirit and Truth – exploring and celebrating diversity in worship
Waves of Mercy – meet surf champion John Mc Carthy
Advertising Annmarie Miles email@example.com
VOX VIEWS Creating an attractive community of faith – What should church look like in the 21st Century?
Operations and Layout Jonny Lindsay
Directors Tom Slattery (Evangeical Alliance Ireland) Mike Mullins (OM Ireland) Dr. Abimbola Afolabi (Oasis of Love)
Just like your Da!
SPECIAL FEATURES Building Homes, Changing Lives – into Africa with Habitat for Humanity
Editor Ruth Garvey-Williams firstname.lastname@example.org
Subscriptions Ireland (32 counties): €12 for four issues Overseas: €22 for four issues All cheques should be made payable to Solas Publishing. Solas Publishing Ulysses House 22 - 24 Foley Street Dublin 1 Tel: 01 443 4789 email@example.com www.voxmagazine.ie Disclaimer The views expressed in letters and articles are those of the respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Solas Publishing. The acceptance of advertising does not indicate endorsement.
Suffer the little children – A look at structural sin in the light of the Ryan Report
05 07 08 08 23 23
VOX: Shorts VOX: World News Your VOX: Letters It’s all Greek to me Worldwatch VOX: POP
25 26 28 28 29 30
Web Watch VOX: Reviews VOX: Gaelige Readers Poll Classifieds and Event Listings VOX: P.S.
Print Beulah Print, Dundalk VOX magazine is a quarterly publication, brought to you by Solas Publishing, a joint project of Evangelical Alliance Ireland, OM Ireland and Oasis of Love. Cover Photo Joseph von Meding
The Logos Hope is Cork bound! Jul - -Sep 4 | VOX | Apr Jun2009 2009
Come onboard at Horgan’s Quay 3 - 12 July www.logoshope.org/ireland
VOX:SHORTS New Era for Bible Education
A partnership between two of Ireland’s Bible colleges has been hailed as an exciting development. From September, students with the Assemblies of God Ireland (AGI) Carraig Eden Theological College will join with the Irish Bible Institute (IBI) in the centre of Dublin city. Uniting the two theological colleges, which have both offered similar University of Wales’ degree courses, will save duplication of valuable resources, shared IBI principal Jacob Reynolds. “There was a sense that we were both doing the same thing. We could combine those resources and ultimately do a better job.” Bringing together a non-denominational college with a denominational college was a challenge for the leaders at IBI and AGI. “IBI will maintain its core identity as a nondenominational Bible Institute, committed to serving the whole evangelical community,” Jacob explained. “The AGI leadership remains deeply committed to high quality theological training and is convinced that IBI is an excellent alternative for its students. We recognise that cooperating together will create a greater impact.” Core courses in Old and New Testament theology will be common to all students while new elective courses will cater to the specific needs of AGI students. The IBI premises in Foley Street will now be in use four days a week and there will be a 35% increase in the number of students using the facility. “We believe this is truly an exciting, God-given development that we trust will be a blessing to all our students and to the wider church. We have always been committed to partnership and we are hopeful that there will be other opportunities with different groups in the future,” Jacob said. “We feel this is not only a very good option but a door that the Lord has opened,” added Gary Davidson, National Leader of AGI. “It is also an opportunity to work together for His purposes in the Kingdom. Without the diligent work and commitment of the staff in both institutions this would have never succeeded!” For more information telephone the Irish Bible Institute on 018069060, email firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the website www.ibionline.ie
Badgering the Taoiseach 928 people called on the Irish government to keep its promise to protect the poorest and most vulnerable people by sending emails via Tearfund’s Facebook application Superbadger. By signing up they were able to send an email directly to the Taoiseach’s office. In the last edition of VOX magazine we highlighted how the Irish Government has cut millions of Euros from the overseas aid budget. These cuts have now reached more than 21% of the overall budget. Using SuperBadger you can add your voice to the campaign. This is 21st Century advocacy at its best - changing the world from the comfort of your sitting room or office. Other SuperBadger campaigns ask Cadbury’s to make all their chocolate fair-trade and call on the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to protect civilians in the conflict. So don’t just sit there... get badgering! http://apps.facebook.com/superbadger/
Nearly 50 women took to the streets of Dublin on a sizzling June Bank Holiday to raise money for overseas aid agency World Vision Ireland. Among the women taking part in the 10K Women’s Mini Marathon was TV presenter Lorraine Keane. “I’ve sponsored a little boy from Tanzania through World Vision for the past eight years so I know the great work they do,” Lorraine said. “The Mini Marathon was a great chance for me to get fit and show my support for their work.” Over 40,000 women took part in the race making it the largest event of its kind in the world. Organisers expect the race to have raised nearly €15 million for charities this year. World Vision Ireland works with communities living in extreme poverty. To find out more go to www.worldvision.ie
Xpresso Arts Festival: 15 -18 July 2009 Featuring Visual Art, Music and Dance at The Basement, Abbey Presbyterian Church, Parnell Square, Xpresso Arts Festival is a gathering of artists and musicians seeking to speak truthfully about the world around us. Everybody is welcome to come along to enjoy the sights and sounds of a new generation of storytellers. Jacob Reynolds, principal at IBI
abbey presbyterian church, parnell square 15th -18th July art_music_us
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Logos Hope in Dublin and Cork
Over 9,600 people stepped on board the Logos Hope during its 10-day visit to the capital city in May. The ship is also visiting Horgan’s Quay in Cork* (3 – 12 July 2009). Welcoming the ship’s crew of 350 volunteers from over 45 nations to Ireland, Dublin’s Lord Mayor, Eibhlin Byrne told them, “You have sailed into a city which is undergoing a very choppy, challenging time in our history. Young people will learn much from how so many different nations and people can live together on one ship.” “We are still living in an era when we are all divided through either cultural, religious or other differences,” she added. “The biggest challenge that faces all of us is to find ways to break down those barriers.” From the moment the ship arrived, its message of hope brought people together. One local commented, “Your ship has already started doing her work here because I just met my neighbour for the first time and we live in the same apartment block!” From nuns and church leaders to homeless people and immigrant communities, hundreds found inspiration and new hope as they met the international crew members, browsed the huge book fair onboard and attended conferences on board.
Youth for Christ Ireland and Northern Ireland have launched a new initiative for 2010 called Project 32. The aim is to recruit 320 volunteers to work with 32 projects in each of the 32 counties in Ireland. Starting with two days of training, teams of 10 young people will then head out across the country to serve with a range of projects from children’s clubs and prayer rooms to social action and youth programmes. Two leaders will be trained and equipped to support each team. The vision of Project 32 is not just to bless the churches for one week only, but to create lasting links and practical new outlets for churches and organisations. YFC hopes young people will discover that God can use them in new ways. Check out www.projectthirtytwo.com
Joint appeal for Christians in Eritrea
Supporters of Church in Chains – Ireland’s advocate for persecuted Christians – joined other religious freedom organisations for a peaceful protest outside the Eritrean Embassy in London in May. Demonstrators standing opposite the Embassy sang praise songs and prayed for those being persecuted. An estimated 3000 Christians have been imprisoned without charge or trial in Eritrea. David Turner, National Coordinator of Church in Chains said: “It is a privilege to stand in solidarity with the persecuted Christians of Eritrea. Their bravery and perseverance is inspiring and we pray and look forward to the day when the doors of the prisons and shipping containers where they are being held are opened wide and they can walk out.” Stuart Windsor, National Director of Christian Solidarity Worldwide added, “There are clear and increasing indications that Eritreans continue to suffer terribly. We will continue to stand with the Eritrean people until human rights, the rule of law and true prosperity becomes a reality.”
*Check out www.logoshope.org/ireland or go to www.ie.om.org
Research reveals attitudes to under-age drinking While 92% of adults are aware that under-age drinking is a problem in Ireland an astonishing 55% believe there is nothing they can do about it. Research commissioned by the HSE showed that only 20% of adults surveyed agreed that their own drinking habits affect young people (45% disagreed!) and only 30% said they would drink less if they thought it might discourage teenagers from drinking. Dr Joe Barry, public health specialist for the HSE said, “While young people may seem very independent, their attitudes and behaviours are very often modelled on adult behaviour. Adults and parents can help address the issue 6 | VOX | Jul - Sep 2009
of underage drinking by looking at their own drinking and by listening and talking to young people about alcohol.” According to the most recent European research, Irish teenage girls are drinking more than their male counterparts. 28% of girls said they had been drunk within the last 30 days compared with 24% boys. This makes Ireland fifth among 35 countries surveyed. A Report by the Office for Tobacco Control revealed that the total amount spent on alcohol by Irish adolescents is €145 million. More information is available on www.yourdrinking.ie
VOX:WORLD NEWS 10
things you need to know about human trafficking Girls are trafficked into many industries besides brothels Because of its sensational and heartbreaking exploitation, the selling of girls into brothels is the main story covered by media. While girls are being trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation, the majority of women and girls are trafficked for other purposes such as forced labour and domestic slavery.
Trafficking is visible; trafficking is accepted The lines of exploitation are so blurred between child labour, migrant labour, exploitative labour, illegal labour and trafficking, that it can be easy to lose sight of the real issues. Victims of trafficking often work in mainstream and visible industries, including restaurants, street scavenging, begging, domestic work, agriculture and factory labour.
Dirty jobs fuel trafficking demand Labour known as “3D” – dirty, dangerous and degrading – attracts people who are desperate for work. This desperation feeds the trafficking industry. Where industries with poor conditions or low wages are struggling to attract workers, some employers will turn to illegal trafficked labour.
People smuggling is not considered human trafficking The definition of trafficking is surrounded by misconceptions. Most trafficking takes place within the framework of migration - the trafficker has initial consent from the victim who is later coerced or tricked into exploitative labour or the denial of their rights. It is a crime to carry people across borders illegally but smugglers cannot yet be prosecuted under trafficking laws. Human trafficking is a crime against the individual; smuggling is a crime against a nation.
Trafficking victims most often “rescue” themselves Victims of trafficking are often portrayed as powerless people, incapable of changing their situation. However, many of them do escape their captivity or speak out against their traffickers.
Adoption is still a trafficking risk “Baby-snatching” into the homes of childless couples is still a trafficking reality. Where people live in poor, drug-affected, violent or transient communities, traffickers can easily prey on new-borns. Children of rape victims or sex workers are particularly vulnerable to forced adoption. Some families choose to sell one child in order to provide for the other children. As many as one in five trafficking survivors fall prey a second time People can be sold over and over again. One reason for this is weak social integration after being trafficked. When a trafficking victim returns home, either through official channels or their own initiative, life can be even worse than when they left and the reasons for leaving home in the first place still exist.
Boys and men are trafficked too The vulnerabilities of men and boys have rarely been addressed. The misconception has been that men are in control of their migration while women and children are trafficked. However, men and boys are often trafficked into exploitative labour.
Disability is attractive to traffickers The very factors that challenge people living with disabilities are the same ones that make them attractive to traffickers. People with disabilities are potentially worth more to traffickers, especially in the begging industry or in brothels. In some cultures a sense of shame or embarrassment, means that families may even seek out traffickers to relieve themselves of responsibility.
There is no one “profile” of a trafficker Traffickers come from all walks of life and both genders. Female traffickers know how to appeal to women and girls in vulnerable situations, while men are more likely to play an authoritative role. A significant percentage of men and boys agree to travel with female traffickers into exploitative situations, because the women seem “nice”.
Published courtesy of World Vision (www.worldvision.ie). To download the full 52page report go to: www.wvasiapacific.org/downloads/publications/10Things.pdf
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YOUR VOX letters to the editor The Tragic Reality I was greatly encouraged to see that Church in Chains offers its publication ‘Global Guide….’ free of charge to readers who ask at email@example.com. It is little realised that active persecution of our fellow believers goes on as a way of life in almost 50 nations. Their desperate plight is ignored by our secular media so that the average Irish citizen knows nothing about it. Perhaps that is why our churches, by and large, do not appear to take note or act upon the tragic reality that the Body of Christ elsewhere is living in crisis. I am very impressed with the ‘Love your Neighbour’ initiative and feel much good can come of it, however, the thoughtn instantly came to me when I heard of it was, ‘Are not our out-ofsight fellow believers our neighbours also ?’ Roy Rohu. Co. Mhuigh Eo Ed: Thanks for your encouragement and your challenge. VOX is committed to sharing news from persecuted Christians around the world in our future editions!
Outside the Box Thanks a million for the second edition of VOX - I think it’s excellent. It’s so current and thinking outside the box. I really like your invitation to engage in dialogue too. The articles were very good and very diverse. It reflected a lot and clearly a lot of thought and care and has gone in to it… so well done! Delwen Giles
Extracts from The Conversation
(Visit www.voxmagazine.ie and click on The Conversation to join in online discussions of issues raised in VOX Magazine) Ana writes: I agree in part with Trevor Morrow’s article about the lack of knowledge of the Bible. On the other hand the danger is that we treat knowledge as the equivalent for transformation. As evangelicals we are known as the people of the book, and though we must pursue it to know it, we must always remember that what we pursue is not knowledge but an encounter with God through its pages. Annmarie writes: I have always understood that when the Bible says that we are “transformed” by the renewing of our minds that it is Scripture that does this. Maeve writes: If what we want is to develop our relationship with God then we need to hear what God wants to say to us. In that case I don’t think we can ever read enough or know enough. I believe as Christians we can only grow by study and therefore knowledge of the Bible. The more we study the more we grow.
We are delighted to publish short letters or emails but cannot publish long letters in full as we want to give ‘voice’ to as many different readers as possible. Recommended length (50 – 150 words) Email: firstname.lastname@example.org with “Your VOX” in the subject line or write to: Your VOX, VOX Magazine, Solas Publishing, Ulysses House, 22-24 Foley Street, Dublin 1
It’s all ελληνικά to me :: Lessons from a Greek Teacher If you are old enough to be reading this then you probably remember when a blackberry was something you picked from a hedge and a mouse was a little four legged creature. Words change. Sometimes their new meaning has a connection with the old, sometimes it doesn’t. If we can remember changes in our lifetime how much more should we expect changes to have taken place over centuries? A common error in Bible study is to assume that what a word means for us today is the same as its meaning in Bible times. Many a keen young speaker thumps home the point that the early Christians were ‘dynamite’ because he has been told that the Greek for ‘power’ is dunamis. (Ed: Dynamite was invented by Alfred Noble and patented in 1867) Without wanting to get into hot water (!) over baptism I’ll just say that even in Bible times the word had a wide range of mean8 | VOX | Jul - Sep 2009
ings (to immerse, to soak, to saturate, to dip, and of a ship to sink) and the New Testament even uses it of washing before eating (Luke 11:38). Our word ‘church’ is derived from a word meaning ‘belonging to a Master’ which is only used of the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11: 20) and the Lord’s Day (Revelation 1:10). The word used in the New Testament for ‘church’ came from the idea of being ‘called together for an assembly’ and was mostly used in a political sense. We cannot be walking dictionaries of Greek words . . . . but at least before we set out to prove everybody else wrong let’s make sure we have got it right! Warren Nelson, originally from Drogheda, Co. Louth, taught at the Irish Bible School in Co Tipperary. He now enjoys active retirement and DIY near Tullamore.
Image: Luis Faustino
Creating an attractive
community of faith
There has been much talk about how church should look in the 21st Century. This has prompted a debate about how the emerging church should be shaped and what values should underlay that process. Much has been written that polarises these two positions as “attractional” versus “missional/incarnational”. “Attractional” church at its core is concerned primarily with changing the internal perspectives to “make church attractive” so that others will join. This is best demonstrated by the move within churches to create a comfortable environment which provides the invitation “come and see” and has driven the need for professionalism in all that we do. “Missional” communities of faith are based around a ‘go live’ mentality, with people engaging in ‘mission’ where life is lived.
“People crave authenticity. They want a community of faith that doesn’t put on a show but is real. “
An “attractional” concept of church bases the interactions of corporate faith around events in church, while “missional” thinking emphasises the relationship between people. It’s not so much about putting on a good show to attract people, as being a caring community of people living out a relevant humanity-focused lifestyle. I believe people coming to church should have a great experience. They should meet people, diverse in age, backgrounds, race and beliefs. They should encounter a community of faith that is more interested in the process and journey of relationship than the concept of hosting an event. I can see why people like events-based models. Some individuals love events
and conferences, believing they offer an opportunity to engage with God instantaneously. This can under value the process of faith. Process is about the long haul. We need a greater understanding that faith may be produced in a moment but is worked out in the daily engagement of life. “Attractional” church ultimately boils down to providing people with a quality event with the view to attracting and keeping them. I believe this model has failed and will fail the church in the future because it reduces our ability to be relevant and ultimately to be human. People crave authenticity. This current generation craves reality. They want a community of faith that doesn’t put on a show but is real. When we strip away our lights, our stages and even our sermons, after the event only relationship will engage people in the things of faith. Humanity is drawn to humanity; to each other’s successes, struggles, doubts and fears. We no longer want church that sticks to the script. We want it to be real; to show the good and the bad. Not so much to put on a show as to create an environment and community that welcomes questions, encourages doubters and ultimately reflects Jesus. The church is us. We’re not perfect, yet we’re all the world has. The church is full of broken, flawed humanity strewn together by the bonds of faith, hope and love, all on a journey towards Christ and to reveal God to the world. To paraphrase Ed Stetzer and David Putman in ‘Breaking the Missional Code’ (2006): Instead of creating services, may the church serve; instead of programmes may we start processes. May we move from “attractional” to incarnational. May we move from professionals to passionate participants; from formula to freedom and from ordered to organic. Bishop Graham Cray said, “The church must always be willing to die to its own cultural comfort in order to live where God intends it to be.”
If we’re honest, we like our structure, our services and how we do church. However, for some of us it’s not working. We need to realise, that the church is not here for us. Erwin McManus explains, “We are the church. The church is not here for us. We are the church and we are here for the world.” We have the exciting mission of living the incarnation. Being the hands, feet and mouthpiece of Jesus; bringing the kingdom to earth, to humanity, to our school, colleges and workplaces. Ending the performance. Praying. Listening. Starting a conversation with our community, engaging them with destiny, justice, faith, hope and love. Living missionally. Living attractive lives of faith. Bringing the Kingdom on earth.
A collaboration between Daniel Caldwell, Principal of Carraig Eden Theological College and Paul Cawley, a member of the Leadership team at Greystones Community Church. g JOIN THE CONVERSATION… What do you think church should look like in the 21st Century? Has the ‘attractional’ model failed? What will authentic faith communities look like? Visit www.voxmagazine.ie and click on “The Conversation”. Post your comments and questions beneath this article online. Illustrations: Olly Blake
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HIV and the church in Ireland *HIV FACTS*hh 33 million people are living with HIV in the world.
“AIDS is not demanding something new of us as Christians but rather that we become the people we are called to be.” -REUBEN COULTER, TEARFUND, IRELAND
There is one new HIV infection in Ireland every day. HIV can only be transmitted through the exchange of blood, semen, vaginal fluids and breast milk. HIV cannot be transmitted through sharing cutlery, toilets, swimming pools or through general bodily contact. There is no cure or vaccine for HIV. However drug therapies, available since the mid 1990s, have ensured that far fewer are dying from AIDS. Instead more people are living with HIV. It is impossible to transmit HIV through sharing drinking cups, including communion cups. It is estimated that you would have to swallow gallons of someone’s saliva (technically impossible) for transmission to be even remotely possible. HIV testing and treatment is free for everyone in Ireland 10 | VOX | Jul - Sep 2009
“The Body of Christ has AIDS”. That was the challenging message for church leaders as they gathered in Dublin to learn more about HIV in Ireland. At an event funded by Irish Aid and facilitated by ACET Ireland and Tearfund Ireland, representatives from a wide variety of church backgrounds looked at how to care for those affected by HIV including those within our congregations. “We want to make the church one of the safest places for someone living with HIV,” shared Richard Carson, Education Director for ACET Ireland. “We need to be sure that people are not defined by the virus but as people made in the image of God.” There is one new HIV infection in Ireland every day. While some injecting drug-users and homosexual men are infected, the highest number of new infections is within the heterosexual community. “Even if the infection rate is less than one per cent in this country, these are real people with real lives,” shared Juliet Amamure from Diaspora Women’s Initiative, a voluntary organisation supporting migrant women. “HIV is in our communities and in our churches!”
Juliet urged church leaders to be careful about how they refer to the issue of HIV from the pulpit as condemnation can reinforce prejudice, stigma and discrimination against those living with HIV.
A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured. -Mark 1: 40 - 42
Comparing the issue of HIV and AIDS to leprosy in Bible times, Reuben Coulter from Tearfund Ireland challenged leaders, “Let us reach out to the most marginalised. Let us be a welcoming community, a place where people can be safe. “Let us raise awareness so that people cannot catch HIV through ignorance. Let us be a place of support and care for people living with HIV. If we are to tackle HIV it has to start here today.”
“HIV is in our communities and in our churches!” -JULIET AMAMURE, DIASPORA WOMEN’S INITIATIVE One of the most significant changes in Ireland over recent years is the drop in the number of people dying of AIDS. With the introduction and development of anti retroviral drugs (ARVs) a person who is HIV positive can now expect to have a normal life expectancy as long as their HIV is properly managed. Instead of preparing for death, hundreds of people in Ireland are learning to live with HIV. For many, this does not just involve health issues but also the pain of rejection and stigma in society and even within the church.
Pastor Tunde Adebayo-Oke of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, flanked by Richard Carson and Richard Phillips of ACET
ATTITUDES IN THE CHURCH In a survey conducted by ACET Ireland, 15% of members of African migrant-led churches said that they were aware that there were members of their congregations who were living with HIV. This compared with just 2% of Irish indigenous congregations. Pastor Tunde Adebayo-Oke National Pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (now the third largest denomination in the Republic of Ireland) called on churches to end HIV stigma. “Those who have HIV do not feel they can share because they are afraid of the reaction. They are immediately seen as promiscuous [even when this is not the case] and people start to judge,” Pastor Tunde explained. “Why people have the virus, how they got infected is inconsequential. It is not our place to judge; it is our place to show compassion. This is our opportunity to demonstrate Christian love.” VOX | Jul - Sep 2009 | 11
Reuben Coulter and David Deakin of Tearfund
The results of ACET’s survey showed some encouraging evidence that levels of stigma are lower in churches than in Irish society in general. When asked if people living with HIV only have themselves to blame, 4% of church members agreed compared to 15% of the general public. “There are a few churches in Ireland where our clients really feel comfortable,” shared ACET Ireland CEO Richard Phillips. “The welcome they receive there and the ongoing acceptance and care they experience is beautiful.” However this is not yet widespread and misunderstanding how HIV is transmitted can be another reason for stigma. 18% of church members said they would be worried about eating a meal prepared by someone living with HIV. This compares to 23% of the Irish public. Preparing a meal or sharing kitchen utensils poses no risk to the transmission of HIV. Refusing to share a meal or expressing concern or fear over this Christian expression of hospitality and community can significantly add to the stigma experienced by those living with HIV.
“We still have a long way to go in stamping out HIV related stigma.” -RICHARD CARSON, ACET IRELAND In addition 53% of church members showed greater levels of concern about someone who is HIV positive working with children (e.g. as a Sunday School Teacher) than for a regular church member even though living with HIV provides no risk when that person is fulfilling the role of a children’s worker. “These results illustrate that we still have a long way to go in stamping out HIV related stigma,” said Richard Carson, ACET Ireland. The church in Ireland is not yet the safest place for those living with HIV!
HIV Conference photos : Jonny Par doe
*Latest figures for HIV and AIDS in Ireland* There were 405 newly diagnosed cases of HIV in Ireland during 2008 - this is an increase of 3.5% and is the highest year on record. In the late 1980’s 80% of HIV transmissions in Ireland were among injecting drug users, however this now only represents 11%. HIV in the 21st century is very much a sexually transmitted infection. During 2008 there were only three reported deaths among AIDS cases (the decline in deaths from AIDS continues). There are now 5,243 people living with HIV in Ireland. 12 | VOX | Jul - Sep 2009
VOX Editor Ruth Garvey-Williams works with OM Ireland in County Donegal. Through OM’s AidsLink, Ruth has seen both the tremendous challenge of the HIV pandemic as well as the potential for real transformation as Christians demonstrate Jesus compassion.
HIV Resources www.acet.ie or contact ACET Ireland on (01) 8787700 www.HIVIreland.ie has a directory of HIV support agencies in Ireland www.aidslinkinternational.org www.tearfund.ie Tearfund International Learning Zone (www.tilz.tearfund.org) - resources for churches and individuals on a wide variety of issues including HIV. Diaspora Women’s Initiative - empowering migrant women to tackle HIV andAIDS in Ireland email@example.com
REAL PEOPLE WITH REAL LIVES One woman lost her job, home, financial security and health within a year of finding out she was HIV positive. She was homeless when ACET Ireland first got in contact, experiencing enormous grief and badly needing emotional support to come to terms with her HIV status. With ACET’s help she found a home and began to access state support services. Through ongoing meetings with a care worker and an ACET counsellor, she is slowly rebuilding her life. “I sat in one of the migrant reception centres a few weeks ago and listened to the stories of people’s experiences of HIV,” shared ACET CEO Richard Phillips. “Many have seen severe discrimination of those who are HIV positive and are terrified that their status as a HIV positive person will be discovered.” “Many of our clients discover they are HIV positive for the first time while they are also dealing with other difficult issues in their lives. For some it is drug abuse, for others it is migration, possibly fleeing terribly difficult circumstances and now trying to come to terms with living in Ireland and negotiating our systems. They are already at the end of their tether and this is another thing to have to process.”
An African Christian woman migrated to Ireland and was later reunited with her husband and three children. When she found she was expecting another baby she underwent routine HIV screening but the test was negative. The baby began to develop breathing problems just 12 weeks after birth. Doctors could not understand the problem until they carried out another HIV test and found that the baby was HIV positive. The baby continues to receive treatment in an Irish hospital. The mother broke down in shock and disbelief. Shortly afterwards she also developed complications with her health. She began praying and asking God to show her how she had caught the infection. She asked her husband whether he had been unfaithful. Finally her husband confessed to having slept with a woman in their community. “It is not right to brand all people with HIV as being promiscuous,” shared Juliet Amamure from the Disapora Women’s Initiative. This woman only slept with her own husband – now both she and her child bear the consequences.
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Building homes –
Since 2002, Habitat for Humanity Ireland has sent almost 1,000 volunteers to over 15 different countries in five continents. The programme offers the opportunity for volunteers to assist those in the greatest need but is also a life changing experience for everyone who takes part! Over €1,000,000 has been raised and 250 homes built. This year, 200 Irish volunteers will build homes in Zambia, South Africa, Mozambique, Honduras, India, Thailand, Hungary and Kyrgyzstan. On April 3, 2009, 20 volunteers from Gonzaga College, Dublin travelled to Tiyende Pamodzi, Zambia. The team helped to build two new homes, forever changing the lives of two families as part of Habitat’s Global Village Programme. Teenager Ciarán O’ Rourke from Dublin described his experience in Zambia: Stepping off the flight was something that none of us will ever forget: wide skies, open space, blazing sun and warm, humid air on our skin. The overcast, damp Dublin we had left behind seemed
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a long way away - not surprising considering that we had left Gonzaga by bus (with a flock of mums waving handkerchiefs in the wind) at around ten o’clock the previous day, had taken a flight to Heathrow and then spent the remainder of the afternoon readying ourselves for the tenhour, over-night flight to Lusaka. Every minute of the travelling was filled with a kind of nervous excitement and enthusiasm, and so the time literally flew by. We all knew we were entering into an unknown, but it was an unknown that we had waited and worked for. Now it had come, we could barely contain ourselves. As we arrived in Tiyende Pamodzi, our host village, a sea of children ran along beside the bus, holding their hands to the window and laughing their “hellos” and “how are yous” to the strangers coming to visit. Over the two weeks, we would grow used to playing skipping and soccer games with the children, being tugged and chased and being taught phrases and
words in their native language. All of us had our favourites, but to think back now to the evening and afternoon playtimes, it is hard to remember anything but dozens of smiling, shining faces. ASTOUNDED! We were taken to the Palm Sunday celebrations. This too was unforgettable. The music of the choirs and the life and rhythm that the entire congregation gave to the ceremonies were incredible. This was our first experience of the Zambian culture that would time and time again astound us with its spirit of hope and emphasis on being positive. One thing we learned later was that in the main native language in Zambia there is no word for “love”. However what struck everyone in the group was just how much love and happiness the people and children of the village brought to every aspect of the day, even in the face of relative poverty, unemployment and difficult living conditions (there was no electricity or running water in the village).
changing lives As building progressed and the bricks and mortar began to resemble a house, we found ourselves becoming quicker and more efficient at the work but also more tired by the end of each day. There were of course moments of temporary confusion, such as when Eoin snapped a pickaxe in two on first swing, almost meriting thirty seconds of stunned silence from the onlookers!
“Leaving the following morning was as difficult as all the hours of labour put together. “ The group became closer - naturally, considering that all sixteen of us slept head-to-toe, foot-to-nose in our small bungalow every night! On our first weekend, we played the first of three soccer matches against a lo-
cal school an hour upstream from where we were staying. With six hundred pupils and seven teachers, the school was completely different from what we were used to in Ireland. Our brief visit to the village was one of the highlights of the trip, even though we lost the match 6-4! THE HARDEST PART WAS GOING HOME… On the final day before our departure, there was a farewell ceremony held in the village. The women who had cooked and looked after us for the two weeks sang traditional songs and the matriarch, Margaret, made a speech in which she thanked us for our kindness and for all we had given to the village. However, it was we who had received so much from the children and families of Tiyende. In the ceremony, on top of a few hearty choir songs, Jack Whelan led a blood-curdling rendition of the ‘Haka’ war dance…twice! And some of the children displayed their hip-hop talents to
the crowd: boy can they dance! Leaving the following morning was as difficult as all the hours of labour put together. Zambia will stay with us for a long time to come. HABITAT FOR HUMANITY Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) is a non profit, non denominational Christian charity which seeks to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the world and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action worldwide. Through volunteer labour and donations of money and materials, Habitat builds simple, decent houses with the help of the homeowner (partner) families. Habitat houses are sold to partner families at no profit and financed with affordable loans, with monthly mortgage payments helping to fund other homes. Find out more online: www.habitatireland.ie
VOX | Jul - Sep 2009 | 15
Spirit and Truth While the desire to worship God crosses the boundaries of denomination, culture and generation, Irish churches can celebrate a rich diversity of worship styles and practices. From traditional hymns or psalms and exquisite choral compositions to heart-felt choruses and lively contemporary beats, people from all backgrounds in Ireland are hungry to worship God ‘in spirit and in truth’. In this edition of VOX, we talk with four very different people as they share their own understanding and contribution to worship. Photos: Joseph von Meding Interviews: Roberta von Meding, Ruth Garvey-Williams 16 | VOX | Jul - Sep 2009
[Worship – to render religious reverence and homage, to feel an adoring reverence or regard.]
Nathan Reilly leads worship at Open Arms Christian Fellowship in Newbridge, Co. Kildare. VOX reporter. Roberta von Meding sat down with him to discuss his vision for worship.
What does worship mean to you? What would you say if I said it is about lights, a big stage and a great band? [Laughs] Just kidding! I think that a lot of people naturally think of worship as the half an hour of music and singing that happens in our churches on a Sunday morning. Yet worship is a heart response to what God is doing in our lives. I think it’s really important for us to come together, especially in church and worship together. I believe God wants so much more from us individually, through our lives, through our thoughts and through how we engage with Him and others. Worship begins in our personal relationship with Jesus and it’s more than just an act, it’s a lifestyle.
What is the role of music in worship? Music is a great way that people from all ages, cultures and backgrounds connect. It’s definitely not the only way that we can worship God but I think music is a channel through which people can express passion in ways that words don’t capture. Music can soften people’s hearts. The Bible often refers to worshipping God through music - Psalm 27 encourages us to, ‘sing and make music to the Lord’.
What do you enjoy most about leading worship in church? Probably the fact that worship is about something so much bigger than us. I’ve been in bands and
The Worship Leader
I’ve played at concerts, where the purpose is entertainment or performance, which is great. However, leading worship is about helping people to connect with God and draw into His presence. To see people’s hearts responding to God or seeing lives touched and transformed is indescribable. That’s not something that a group of musicians can make happen on their own.
What would you say is the most important characteristic for a worship team member? There are a number of them but I believe that having a servant heart is probably the most important quality for any worship team member or anyone involved in ministry for that matter. Getting up on stage to play or lead is a privilege and it is about serving God and ministering to others. It is not about meeting your own needs or getting the opportunity to do “your thing”. Having a servant heart is about surrendering your own agenda.
worship is a heart response to what God is doing in our lives
What are some of your main challenges as a worship leader? It’s too easy to fall into the trap of measuring ministry like you measure career success. Worship is about responding to Jesus. As worship leaders we need to be careful not to overcomplicate our worship by getting caught up in things that take our eyes off the focus… Jesus! VOX | Jul - Sep 2009 | 17
VOX reporter Roberta von Meding spent an hour chatting to Welsh-born Paul Bryne about his passion for DJ-ing. Paul is now based in Ireland and worships at St Marks in Dublin City.
Can you explain how you got into DJ-ing? I was DJ-ing before I became a Christian. Then when I became a Christian I turned it around for the Lord. I was doing a job for a photographer one time and he recorded some funky gospel music for me and soon afterwards I got down on my knees and prayed, ‘Lord if you give me the talent and if you give me the equipment and the music, I will DJ for you.’ Since then lots of doors have opened including playing as a member of a band, Koshur and appearing in front of millions on the God channel. DJ-ing was one of my dreams and God fulfilled that dream.
DJ-ing as a means of worship may be a relatively new concept to our readers. Tell us a bit about how the two intersect. The music I play worships Jesus. It speaks about Jesus, the Holy Spirit and Father God. It is praising God. I use funky dance music made by Christians. I then put preaching over it by Billy Graham and Tim Story.
What message do you send out to people through your music? All I’m trying to do is get people to see that there is another side to gospel music. Most people think it is
‘Why don’t they play music like this in church? That would make me go back.’
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old and boring. A 21-year-old recently listened to some of my music I was playing while I was in work. He said, ‘Why don’t they play music like this in church? That would make me go back’. The message I want to bring to people is that God loves them. He is the door. There is hope and freedom in Jesus.
What has God been speaking to you about recently with regards to your music? When I was on a mission trip in Belarus recently, I read John 4:23. It’s phenomenal! It says, ‘But the hour is coming and now is when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. For the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is spirit and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth’.
What is your vision for worship in the future? I’m an evangelist. I find that my music is another way of sharing my faith. I’m going to keep doing what I do, mixing and making music and spreading the word through my music. I truly hope to influence people.
“If we are going to worship in Spirit, we must develop a spirit of worship.” Richard Foster
The Choir Master As organist and master of the choristers at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, Peter Barley is responsible for the music at a church which has been a centre of worship for centuries. VOX editor Ruth GarveyWilliams finds out more.
Tell us about yourself. I was a chorister myself in Oxford, England. Then I won a music scholarship to secondary school and an organ scholarship to university. I worked in London for 11 years at St Marylebone Church, close to the Royal Academy of Music where I was a student. For six years I was director of the Edington Festival of Music within the Liturgy – an unusual festival in which all the music takes place in the context of church services. I came to Dublin in January 2002.
Music articulates things we cannot actually say
Tell us about the choir school at St Patrick’s Cathedral This is the oldest school in Ireland dating back to 1432! It was set up to provide education for the boys who sang in the choir and continues in that role today. Now it is a small co-ed national school teaching the standard curriculum along with extra music rehearsals at the beginning and end of each day. The boys’ choir sings every morning Monday to Friday and two or three evenings a week and they sing at two services on a Sunday. It is quite a big commitment on the part of the families.
What is the enduring attraction of traditional church worship? I suppose it is the tradition stretching back so many years. It is something that is on-going. Whatever has intrinsic value will last; quality will last. I think also there has been a return to people’s questioning about faith. People come to a new-found understanding and music can give another dimension.
What role does music play in worship? Music oils the progress of a service. It can underline what you are trying to put across. Music articulates things we cannot actually say and there is also a sense in which it gives a greater power to the words. St Augustine said, “He who sings prays twice.” At times, God speaks in the silences more than the music. But some people come to a very deep and rich understanding of worship and of faith through the music.
How would worship at St Patrick’s differ from worship in other churches? When you come to a service here, the choir does most of the work. If you are a member of the congregation, most of the participation is by listening not doing. That can be beneficial in this day and age when we are all so hyper busy. Other people want rather a more active role in worship. It is a matter of what speaks to the person.
You spend your time leading others into worship, but how do you worship? Most of the time it is my job to produce the best worship for everybody else. I am facilitating someone else’s worship more than my own. There is a sense of completion in preparing a service and in a way that is my worship. Then of course if I am not busy here then I can experience worship from the receiving end at another church or cathedral. NB: To find out more about the Choir School contact Peter via the website (www.stpatrickscathedral.ie) VOX | Jul - Sep 2009 | 19
The Organist Kathy Moriarty came from America in 1991 and lives with her husband Jim in Greystones, Wicklow. They are both involved in the Bray Gospel Hall. Kathy sat down with VOX reporter Roberta von Meding to explain her role as an organ player in church and her views on the diversity of worship music in Ireland.
How long have you been playing the organ? What made you decide on such a traditional instrument? I have been playing the organ since I was a teenager. I always loved music and when I was in high school I decided music would be my major. Piano and organ were my instruments. I love the sound of the organ, especially with the traditional hymns which have very meaningful words.
What impact do you think God has on people through the music you play? I think the Lord uses instruments in a mighty way whether it’s my playing or somebody else. We see it all through the scripture; ‘make a joyful noise to the Lord’ [Psalm 98: 4]. God has given us instruments as gifts.
Do you practice before playing in church? In America in most churches you would know what hymns were going to be sung for the following Sunday. This meant we would have time to practice beforehand. In Ireland though, I found that the culture was different. The songs are sprung on you before you play. I do love to play and practice during the week but it may not coincide with the songs that will be played the next week. It is a heart thing though rather than a practice thing. The main thing is for the heart to worship rather than worship as a source of entertainment.
I can worship with traditional hymns, contemporary praise, choruses and I am so thankful for this variety. “Worship changes the worshiper into the image of the One worshiped” H.H. Rowley
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How important is worship in the church and in your daily life? I’m the kind of person that has Christian radio on all the time. I find it really is a mood changer. It helps you to have your mind and focus set on the Lord rather than the circumstances you are in.
What is your hope for the future of worship in your own life and in Ireland? I love the way it is now. There is such variety. I can worship with traditional hymns, contemporary praise, choruses and I am so thankful for this variety. I think it is very healthy for Ireland to have such diversity. In scripture it says, ‘we should speak to each other in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs’ [Ephesians 5: 19] so there should be variety in worship.
WAVES OF MERCY John Mc Carthy, three times Irish National Sr. Surf Champion and the 1st Irishman to win a medal in the European Sr. championships (2007) spoke to VOX Sports about the highlights of sporting competition and his own new-found faith.
John started surfing at age 10 with friends after school but gave it up because he did not own a wetsuit. At 13, donning his first wetsuit, he was back in the frigid water at Tramore beach in Waterford. His first competition came when he was just 14. He was picked for the Irish surf team to compete in the European championships. Winning the bronze medal in the 2007 European Surf Championships was a highlight for John. “I was in second place until the last few minutes. I just needed one more good wave to win, but I got stuck in a rip. It was the first time an Irish person won a Senior’s medal, so it was a big deal for me. “Another major highlight was being part of a team to first surf the waves under the Cliffs of Moher. I got to name it, “Aileens” after the name of the headland. It was a truly memorable day, the huge waves with the most exciting backdrop to any surf spot in the world. “As for my life as a whole, the most important day of my life was the day Jesus entered my world (in 2006),” John shared. “My life hasn’t been the same since. For sure, that was the single greatest event in my life.”
Now 34, John says most of his competitive surfing days are behind him. His main focus is making the Lahinch Surf School the best experience it can be for its customers. He’s also involved with a new church (Lahinch Community Church). In these turbulent times, John has found peace in knowing that God loves him and that He has a plan for John’s life. Describing how he feels safe in God, John explained, “In Jesus, we are standing on a rock. We are not just an empty vessel floating around. There is a purpose to our lives. When we take our eyes off ourselves and put them on a huge God, there isn’t really much to worry about!” John also shared, ‘It’s time for followers of Jesus to stand out in the community and shine His light into the dark places so that those who don’t know how much God loves us might see His wonderful forgiveness, grace, love and mercy.” “That’s where I get my excitement from these days. I love serving Jesus. His ‘waves of mercy’ are so beautiful!”
VOX:SPORTS is written by Daniel Tabb. Born in the United States, Daniel moved to Dublin in January 2002. He is the founder and director of “Sports Across Ireland”.
VOX | Jul - Sep 2009 | 21
“Suffer the children to come unto me.” In the light of the Ryan Report John McKeever examines the concept of structural sin.
These words of Jesus have forever gained an additional, bitter poignancy in the Irish psyche. The children who did ‘come unto’ some of Christ’s earthly representatives for care and protection did suffer, and appallingly. While the country reels in shock, and grieves over the horrific detail of our hidden history, a critical analysis of the whole concept of structural sin may help us come to terms with the past and prevent further abuses. It is difficult to imagine a more flagrant and systematic contravention of the central tenets of the Christian value system than the revelations of the Ryan Report. Both Old and New Testaments emphatically command us to protect the powerless – the raggy boys, the maggies, the migrants, the addicts, the prisoners and those people excluded by virtue of a physical or mental disability. This litany of some of the categories of exclusion may be collapsed into one meaningful term – the other. How are we collectively faring in regards to our treatment of these other others? The theological study of sin is called hamartiology. This word derives from Greek and denotes missing the mark, as in archery. It is personal, individual and subjective. Structural sin by contrast is corporate, communal and diffuse. It may be characterised more as a sin of omission than as a sin of commission. Our collective actions – through the proxy of our elected or appointed representatives – may be in the realm of commission; but our collective failure to monitor and challenge these representatives is often a sin of omission.
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When our failure comes to light we experience a sudden collective guilt which painfully interrogates our individual and communal conscience. It is natural to seek someone else to blame. While the primary culprits are a relatively small and identifiable group of ‘serial abusers’, who may or may not face criminal justice, there remains the sweeping societal culpability for privileging the powerful and silencing the powerless. The scriptures have much to say about structural/ corporate sin. God addresses
What would Jesus say to us as a nation in the light of the Ryan Report? and reproves the corporate nation of Israel again and again through the prophets. Injustices and abuse of priestly privilege are common themes. Jesus lambastes the Pharisees collectively with a blistering critique. He weeps over Jerusalem. What would Jesus say to us as a nation in the light of the Ryan Report? When the painful machinery of justice has ground to an eventual halt, this rhetorical question will still require a long and searching engagement. This is a ‘Damascus moment’ for the Irish people and like Saint Paul we would do well not to hasten to interpret what has just happened. An elderly relative of mine, a devout Catholic and daily communicant all her life, shocked me with her own considered response to the uncovering of this structural sin. “There is only one
solution to this awful situation. That’s a new reformation. I am sorry to say it has come to that.” Those unselfconscious words are for me a telling measure of the depth of the shock and disbelief we are all going through. I agree with her, but I think reform of the church alone stops short of what is needed. John McKeever is 49 and from Belfast but living in Dublin. He overcame chronic alcoholism and has developed an award-winning personal development programme, Staying Real, based on his own experiences.
‚ JOIN THE CONVERSATION… What do you think Jesus would say to the nation in the light of the Ryan Report? If reform of the church stops short of what is needed, what other changes must happen? Are we in danger of pointing the finger and blaming others rather than facing our corporate responsibility in preventing abuse? Visit www. voxmagazine.ie and click on “The Conversation”. Post your comments and questions beneath this article online. Illustrations: Olly Blake
The publication of the Ryan Report sent shockwaves through the country in May. We asked the general public to share their views. How has the Ryan Report into abuse of children in Ireland’s Industrial Schools affected your attitudes towards Christianity?
WORLDWATCH a closer look
I feel horrified that those claiming to follow Christ could act in this way
The End-of-the-World Movie I feel angry both with the religious orders and with the Government.
I feel saddened but believe we should not judge Christianity itself by the actions of a few.
I feel betrayed – those we trusted, abused their positions of responsibility. How can we trust them in future?
The report confirms my opinion of Christianity – my attitudes have not changed.
I feel disillusioned – if those in positions of power and responsibility in the Church can act like that, why should I embrace Christianity? Each symbol represents 5%
Over 80% of those surveyed believe that the Gardai should investigate and prosecute all those responsible for the abuse while over 70% felt that those who covered up the abuse should be held accountable as well as the abusers themselves. There were strong calls for compensation for victims and for the religious orders responsible to make a public apology. A number of people emphasised the need to move forward, rather than look back, with stronger child protection laws (57%) and separation of church and state (40%). One third (34%) of those surveyed felt priests should be allowed to marry (option suggested in a national newspaper).
“I am amazed at the numbers of people who claimed to be shocked by the findings. As an Irish woman educated by religious I witnessed almost every day in school some humiliation meted out to students by the nuns and teachers. The power of the Church and its representatives was absolute and now I hope respect can be given to the person and not to the position they occupy.” “All people who have access to children, adults, elderly or anyone who is relying on them for support and care irrespective of their calling in life, religious or other, should have to show their appropriateness to be placed in a position of power. They should all undergo Garda clearance without exception.”
Some commentators maintain that poetry accurately reflects where the world is now and where it is going (Mark Patrick Hederman, Abbot of Glenstal and the Italian poet-priest, David Maria Turoldo, for example). I think they are right, but I feel that cinema reflects our world much more powerfully and to a much wider public. The End-of-the-World movie is a genre that has developed over the last ten to fifteen years. Typically, it describes a disaster that threatens to destroy the whole world and all who live on it. Although such a movie suggests that terrible things are in imminent danger of happening, human beings are always depicted as able to overcome them after tremendous struggles. Of interest is what the End-of-the-World movie tells us of the modern zeitgeist. Producers make such films, and people go to see them, because they have some kind of relevance. It’s as though the cinema industry and its audience sense that the world is under threat; that danger lurks ahead; that things cannot go on as they are at present. The question here is whether the End-of-theWorld movie is right to imply that the world might be nearing its end? Two answers suggest themselves. Firstly, climate change has now come to the point where it seems irreversible. The planet has suffered such depredation at our hands that it is dying. The only question is: when and how will it finally succumb? Secondly, civilisation is also toppling. Human immorality and arrogance are destroying society at all levels and rather than recognising that fact and changing the way we live, we persist in our wrongdoing, going from bad to worse. It is a paradox that those who make and watch End-of-the-World movies seem to believe the end may be approaching, but do not see that their own behaviour is the cause. Most importantly, for the Christian, if people of little faith or none can deduce that the end is near, shouldn’t we, with the benefit of Scripture, be even more certain of it and be preparing for it diligently? And shouldn’t we also be even more hopeful of what lies beyond given the Bible’s promises of the New Heaven and the New Earth? Mark Edmund Hutcheson is a poet and teacher.
“It is not fair to give false hope to victims - by encouraging them to go to the Gardai - there will be no additional criminal prosecutions. Investigations have occurred in the past and these were unsuccessful. In addition promising additional financial compensation is not fair to victims because this too will not happen. Abusers CANNOT be named due to the constitution. Many abusers are dead and CANNOT be held accountable. At the end of the day the focus should be on how we can as a society assist the victims in MOVING forward in their life.” VOX | Jul - Sep 2009 | 23
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I was very put out a few weeks ago to have that said to me by an old friend of my parents’. I mean what woman wants to be told she looks like her father?! I know it’s true, but there’s no need to rub it in!!! It is sad to say that I do not have the 40’s movie star profile that my mam had in her day. Instead, like my dad, I have a big face with the family ski-slope nose and thin lips. There’s no denying it... I am my father’s daughter. It did make me think though. I wonder how like my Heavenly Father I am. The Bible tells me that I have been made in His image. But how like Him am I really? How likely is it that someone will come to me and say, “You’re the image of your Father!”? The great thing about becoming like Him is that it is a process and doesn’t all have to happen today. If you read my scribble in the last edition of VOX you’ll know that I am on a journey of physical transformation (also called a diet!). Losing weight in and of itself is not actually transforming my image. I’m just a sinner in smaller clothes! But it has come out of the inner transformation that God is working in me. The diet trail is rough terrain, but it is the emotional and spiritual journey that is the challenge. As for my dear old dad, well these days he has a walking stick and repeats himself a lot. Whether I get more and more like him as the years go by remains to be seen. And as for my dear old dad… Annmarie Miles comes from Tallaght in Dublin and is married to Richard, from Wales. She works for Focus on the Family and loves to cook, sing, read, talk and eat! She has just graduated with a degree in theology from Bangor University in Wales.
Image: Caroline Connaughton
“You get more like your Da every time I see you!”
www.billyritchie.org The Blog of Billy Ritchie a Pastor in Milton Keynes Christian Centre. Billy also has a role I believe in the Ultimate Event - large Christian based music event held annually in Alton Towers. What Billy has to say is always interesting and challenging. www.dpreview.com Interested in Photography? Try this site to keep up to date with the news and pose questions on their excellent forums.
www.imprintsoflight.blogspot.com The Blog belonging to Daniel Owen the Rector of the Cobh and Glanmire Union of Parishes in Co. Cork. Combining excellent photography and interesting thoughts. www.macblogz.com All your Apple Mac related news and speculation in one place. Husband and father, Tomas Tyner, describes himself as a music lovin’ Mac usin’ medical photographer from Cork.
‚ Send us your top five websites with a few
details about yourself (editor@voxmagazine. ie). We’ll publish one top five in every VOX magazine and will make more available on our website www.voxmagazine.ie VOX | Jul - Sep 2009 | 25
VOX:REVIEWS Living Life on a Roller Coaster – Facing Life’s Challenges Head On By Helen Little Ambassador Publications, 2009 First time Dublin author Helen Little describes her book: “In the unexpected twists and turns of life, perspective and faith have helped me through. “Life didn’t turn out the way I expected it would. Marriage breakdown, divorce, disappointments and caring for my two children with Cystic Fibrosis all threatened to overwhelm me and take away my hope. “I found that in those difficulties, when faced with a positive perspective, I learned the most valuable life’s lessons, had the opportunity to grow spiritually and emotionally and learn about what matters most in life. “Overcoming the obstacles life threw at me revealed an inner strength I did not know I had. Facing my fears made me stronger. “For me, an essential that made the difference was my relationship with God which kept me centred in all the difficulties we faced. It didn’t take away the human reactions to what I was going through but it gave me peace beyond understanding and strength for every step of the journey.”
Delirious? - My Soul Sings DVD/CD Live From G12 Bogota, Colombia Delirious? must be one of the few bands that don’t need a warm-up to get the audience on board. The crowd goes mad as soon as they hear the harmonic chimes of Stu Garrard’s guitar and see frontman Martin Smith emerge from the stage smoke. It could be a U2 arena gig. But this is a church event – at one of the world’s biggest churches – G12 in Bogota, Colombia. This is a church passionate about the gospel – which comes across on the DVD. Smith doesn’t need to do much to set this crowd on fire. They’re already ignited. It’s a convergence of two phenomena of the globalised Christian market – one of the biggest bands and one of the biggest churches – together for one night. Delirious? present a set packed with favourites like Rain Down, History Maker, Majesty and their massive hit Deeper. The concert is punctuated with rock theatrics, but this doesn’t put people off. If anything, the ‘pop’ showmanship makes the
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audience wilder. The lights, sounds and spectacle of guitar heroes belting out modern church anthems work together to make an emotionally-charged experience. Delirious? fans will love this DVD/CD package. But as the band put the brakes on their runaway success and finish touring and recording, could this mark a change in how we worship? After Delirious? what next? Something even brighter and bolder? Or is it time to turn down the volume on the PA and try a different approach? Whatever follows as Smith and his team return to the mist, these lads have made a mark. Clive Price is an award-winning writer serving newspapers and magazines in Ireland, the UK and USA – including the Irish literary journal Verbal. He will be leading a writers’ weekend in Co Donegal this autumn (see events listing for details).
How to choose a translation for all it’s worth By Gordon D Fee and Mark L Strauss (Zondervan, 2007) For anyone who is confused about the number of versions of the Bible that are available in the English language, I would certainly recommend this book. The authors explain that translations fall broadly into three categories: formal equivalent (literal or word-for-word) versions, functional equivalent (thought for thought) versions and somewhere in between the two on the translation spectrum, mediating versions. There is a tendency to think that the more literal a translation is, the more accurate it must therefore be. But the authors call this assumption into question. (An idiom translated literally loses its meaning. “Hitting the road”, for example, doesn’t mean “striking the street”!) They deal too with the somewhat controversial subject of gender inclusive language. (You will have to read the book if you want to know their views on the subject). The authors helpfully remind us that some of the functional equivalent versions were translated specifically for children, people who struggle with reading or people for whom English is not a first language, a fact that those who are critical of these versions should probably bear in mind! Although they are writing about a technical subject, the authors are to be commended for writing a book that isn’t too technical. They are at pains to emphasise that it is more important to read the Bible than to argue about which is the best translation! Every translation has its good points, so read any or all of them! My advice? Read this book, choose a Bible version that is good for you and then, more importantly, read the Bible! Brian Kerr lives in County Donegal and runs the Faith Mission Bookshop in Derry.
Are you bursting to tell people about a new book, album or movie? The VOX team is always on the look out for people willing to pen reviews. If you’re interested, get in touch today! email@example.com
VOX || Jul Jul -- Sep Sep 2009 2009 || 27 27 VOX
CAIRDEAS LE DIA
Toisc go raibh moill ar Mhaois thuas ar Shliabh Sinai, bhailigh pobal Dé timpeall ar Árón agus d’iarr said air íol a dhéanamh. Rinne Árón íol dóibh. Tá sé deacair é seo a chreidiúint, ach go gairid tar éis dóibh míorúiltí Yahweh d’fheiscint agus É á bhfuascailt ó ghéibheann na hÉigipte, meascann pobal Dé trí rud: adhradh Dé, adhradh íl agus déanamh scléipe (Ex. 32:6). Deireann siad os comhair an lao óir a rinne Árón dóibh “Seo é do dhia, a Iosrael” (Ex. 32:4)! Is fiú a thabhairt chun cuimhne nach raibh sé ró-fhada ó gheall siad a ndílseacht don Tiarna: “Tháinig Maois agus d’aithris sé don phobal aitheanta uile an Tiarna agus a reachtanna uile. D’fhreagair an pobal go léir d’aonghuth: ‘Na haitheanta go léir a thug an Tiarna, déanfaimid iad a chomhlíonadh’” (Ex. 24:3). Rinne Maois, mar cheannaire ar phobal Dé, idirghuí ar son an náisiúin agus roinn Dia go trócaireach leo (Ex. 32:9-14). Ach toisc go raibh croí crua réabhlóideach ag na daoine tharraing Dia siar óna measc. Mar shiombal air
seo bhíodh Both na Teagmhála lasmuigh den gcampa, ach bhí cead ag na daoine teacht (Ex. 33:7). Tugadh pribhléid iontach do Mhaois: bhí sé in ann labhairt leis an dTiarna aghaidh ar aghaidh, mar a dhéanfadh duine lena chara (Ex. 33:11). Cad is cara ann? Bhuel, tá dilseacht agus iontaoibh i gceist. Bhí Maois, murab ionann agus formhór mór na ndaoine, mar chara ag Dia agus thaispeáin sé dílseacht agus umhlaíocht Dó. Sinne a bhfuil ár muinín curtha againn i gCríost mar Shlánaitheoir, féachaimid go fírinneach Air mar chara. Canaimid an t-iomann “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”. Is fíorchara É Íosa. Mar a dúirt Sé féin: “Níl grá ag aon duine níos mó ná seo go dtabharfaidh duine a anam ar son a chairde” (Eoin 15:13). Ach ar an dtaobh eile den scéal: an bhfuilimid inár gcairde Dó? Agus is é teist atá air sin ceist a chur orainn féin:
An gcomhlíonaimid A aitheanta? An bhfuil ár saol bunaithe ar a ndúirt Sé? “Is sibhse mo chairde má dhéanann sibh gach rud a ordaím daoibh” (Eoin 15:14). Tá fhios againn nach bhfuil de chumas ionainn saol mar seo a mhaireachtáil gan cabhair. Buíochas le Dia, tugann Sé féin neart dúinn: Táim in ann gach ní a dhéanamh le cabhair an té úd a thugann neart dom (Filipigh 4:13). Gearóid Flynn: Múinteoir bunscoile, pósta le beirt iníon, agus ina chónaí sna Déise.
VOX READERS’ POLL
We asked you: “Do you ever feel you “waste” time? If so how?” Here is what you said in our online poll:
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SOCIAL NETWORKING 48% THOUGHT LIFE 46% REALITY TV 31%
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COMPUTER GAMES 19% SLEEPING 15% TRAVELLING 5%
(Readers could select multiple options.)
Have your say! Take part in our next online Readers Poll. It takes just 30 seconds to complete online and you can read the results in the next edition of VOX. Go to www.voxmagazine.ie. Click on the Readers Poll and tell us what world issue most concerns you right now.
28 | VOX | Jul - Sep 2009
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What’s happening, where and when?
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VOX | Jul - Sep 2009 | 29
Repentance and penance…
Those of us of a certain age brought up in Ireland remember Catechism Class – learning rote answers to deep theological questions. Much of the time we didn’t understand the question, much less the answer. One question never asked was, “What is the difference between repenting and doing penance?” They were seen as the same. But they are not. And that is important because in Ireland we are good at doing penance but hopeless at repenting. In May 1999 the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern made a public statement of apology “on behalf of the State and of all citizens of the State” to the victims of institutional child abuse. In that apology he promised them a sympathetic forum where they could “tell their story”. This looked like repentance. The State admitted the terrible wrong it had done in locking up children whose “crime” was to be poor and vulnerable. The State allowed these children to be abused terribly by members of the religious orders and then threw them out into the world with criminal records. And it then refused to listen to their story for decades. Many of the religious orders appeared to admit their own role in this evil. But it wasn’t repentance. It was penance. Penance means making amends, restitution – it means trying to “fix it.” Giving money, providing counselling for victims is penance. This is not wrong. Making amends is a good thing as long as it doesn’t replace repentance. Repentance means returning, going back to the way the things should have been. It is a radical change of mind and a change of heart that leads to a change of action. This change of heart and mind was missing. After 1999 the State established a Commission. It should have been a sympathetic forum where victims could freely tell their story. It became a place of interrogation where victims were questioned by lawyers representing the rights of the State and the Religious Orders. The two guilty parties co-operated to challenge their victims. The first Chair of the Commission eventually resigned, pleading in her resignation letter that the Commission be allowed “to bring closure for the Complainants and for other victims of abuse in childhood, many of whom are old and in bad
health”. Four years and four months after the apology, her plea was to let them tell their story before they die. The Ryan report, when it eventually appeared another five and a half years later, did not contain the real name of a single victim. Many victims died in that period. Many more were never invited to tell their story. Compare this to South Africa’s “Forum for Truth and Reconciliation” where the names of victims were recorded and their stories made public. The format was simple. Victims were welcomed, made to feel comfortable and invited to share their experiences. No lawyers, no interrogation. In South Africa they understood what we have yet to learn. The journey to repentance is always along the road of truth. Penance without repentance is a cover up job. Michael O’Brien, one of those silenced victims put it well on “Questions and Answers” - “Ye didn’t do it right. Ye got it wrong. Admit it”. They got it wrong when they locked children up and abused them. They got it wrong again when penance replaced repentance. Soon the question became “Who will pay?” and “How much?” These are not the questions of repentant people. The State has done all this in our name, in the name of the people of Ireland. And the Religious Orders have done this in God’s name. The prophet Amos warned the state of Israel about the need for repentance. He accused the powerful and well-off in that society of being so concerned about their own comfort that, “you have turned justice into poison and the fruit of righteousness into bitterness” (Amos 6:12). This is precisely what has been done in this case. Done in our name and done in God’s name. Ireland needs its own Forum for Truth and Reconciliation. We need to allow the victims to tell their stories. We need to repent for the original wrongs but also for our attempt to replace repentance with penance. We didn’t do it right. We got it wrong. It’s time to admit it.
Penance without repentance is a cover up job.
Seán Mullan works in leadership at Dublin West Community Church and Evangelical Alliance Ireland.
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