1. Hugo Chávez, slumlord
Jon Lee Anderson, perhaps best known for his massive biography on the life of Latin American revolutionary Che Guevara, has written a piece in The New Yorker on how Hugo Chávez, who has been MIA with uncertain health for more than 50 days now, has failed Venezuela generally and its capital city specifically. For those of us who don’t subscribe, there’s just a summary of the piece available for free (plus a related photo essay), but the abbreviated part is telling enough:
Hugo Chávez has said that he wants to remake Venezuela into “a sea of happiness and of real social justice and peace.” His pronounced goal was to elevate the poor. In Caracas, the country’s capital, the results of his fitful campaign are plain to see. For decades, as one of the world’s most oil-rich nations, Venezuela had a growing middle class, with an impressively high standard of living. Hundreds of thousands of immigrants from the rest of Latin America and from Europe helped give Caracas a reputation as one of the region’s most attractive and modern cities. That city is barely perceptible today. After decades of neglect, poverty, corruption, and social upheaval, Caracas has deteriorated beyond all measure.
2. The gospel of immigration
Over the past week, a surprising range of figures from across the political spectrum have come together in support of making immigration reform a high-level priority for this year. Sure, there’s a lot of political pandering going on, and yes, building a true consensus on the nitty gritty details will be a real challenge, but it’s at least an encouraging step. RELEVANT reposted a timely blog post from Dr. Russell Moore of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, which he originally wrote in the summer of 2011. Here’s the opening paragraph of the piece:
I’m amazed when I hear evangelical Christians speak of undocumented immigrants in this country with disdain as “those people” who are “draining our health care and welfare resources.” It’s horrifying to hear those identified with the Gospel speak, whatever their position on the issues, with mean-spirited disdain for the immigrants themselves. While evangelicals, like other Americans, might disagree on the political specifics of achieving a just and compassionate immigration policy, our rhetoric must be informed by more than politics, but instead by Gospel and mission.
3. Two kinds of politics
Religion and politics is an explosive mix, as we all know. You don’t have to look far to see politicians seeking to co-opt people of faith, or people of faith seeking to baptize a particular brand of partisan politics. But those who claim the gospel is apolitical must deal with their own share of problems. Daniel Camacho, a Junior Fellow at The Colossian Forum, writes on the significance of our worship itself being political:
Separating our worship from our politics neglects the way in which our worship is a form of politics, and the way in which it can inform our involvement in our government’s politics. From this vantage point, a Christian is always involved in two kinds of politics. To borrow from Augustine’s The City of God, Christians are simultaneously involved in the politics of the heavenly polis and the politics of the earthly polis. Our participation in the Body of Christ gives shape to our involvement in society at large.
4. Beyond state and market
Matthew Kaemingk writes for Fieldnotes about the irreplaceable importance of the third sector, on the basis of who we are as human beings:
Instead of simplistic descriptions of human beings as either clients of the state or competitors in the market, the Christian Scriptures present humanity in a refreshingly complex way. We find a complex creature with a wide variety of gifts, abilities, interests, aspects, loyalties, and solidarities. Created in the image of God, human beings in the Bible are anything but simple. They are musical, communal, religious, artistic, familial, charitable, scientific, literary, moral, athletic, fun, and funny. The robust anthropology found in the Bible depicts a creature that could never be fully defined, controlled, content, or nourished by the market or the state alone—thank God.
5. The art of restoration
Nate Clarke, the filmmaker behind all of This Is Our City’s short films, has done it again with this one, rolled out this week as part of the project’s coverage of the ways Christians are seeking the flourishing of Detroit.
Repaso is intended as a thought-provoking compilation of news and commentary related to the intersections of faith, development, justice and peace. As always, I welcome your thoughts on any of the links and ideas in this roundup!
[Photo credit: Man lifting weights on a rooftop in Caracas, Venezuela via morethangreen.es]