All posts tagged “protests

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Repaso: Letter to OWS, transparent church, mission & culture, powerful photos of 2011, global financial mess, spiritual theology & relevance, blessing & cursedness at Christmas

1. A Letter to OWS
Makoto Fujimura, head of the International Arts Movement, has written a letter to the Occupy Wall Street Movement. He has a love/hate relationship with movements, he says, and encourages and implores those involved with OWS to remember a few essential things:

The value of your movement is in spontaneity, diversity, and flexibility.  Do not let extreme ideologies hijack your movement.  Do not let the media define who you are. Avoid every temptation to name a spokesperson or a leader, no matter how charismatic that person is.  Keep pressing into raising questions more than giving answers. Be generous, mysterious, and enigmatic. A movement is organic and generative, and your passion must be carried into the conversation for the next generation, from Wall Street to dining room table discussions. Above all, do all things out of love.

2. The transparent church
Skye Jethani blogs about a public art installation in Belgium resembling a see-through church, and what it can teach us as Christians:

The architects said they were motivated by the growing number of abandoned churches in Belgium, and the declining role of religion in the highly secularized country. They have titled their structure “Reading Between the Lines” because it “extends this idea of transparency onto the church and equally onto the observer who must learn to read between the lines even among things that are seemingly transparent. Just because you can see something doesn’t make it real, neither does something not exist because it can’t be seen.”

3. Do missions destroy cultures?
This one by Jordan Monson, a church planter in Spain, has sparked a good conversation at RELEVANT on the role missions and missionaries play (or don’t) in changing other cultures. Monson says, in effect, that missionaries have great power for good and for ill in the cultures to which they are sent:

Christians—and missionaries—can be at times the best and at other times the worst representatives of Christ. They’re not perfect. They will make mistakes, and they will take some cultural presuppositions with them no matter how much they are trained not to. Missionaries will unapologetically keep campaigning against female mutilation, deceivingly referred to as female circumcision; they will fight against cannibalism, witchcraft and human sacrifice. But they will also miss the mark sometimes and carry their Western values too far. Missionaries are still sinners, but when they follow Christ and make His glory their chief end, they elevate culture and follow the call of Jesus.

4. Most powerful photos of 2011
This collection of photos is stunning and sobering. It’s been a rough year for many in our world, and I was struck by just how many photos of natural disasters and mass protests were included.

5. Who owns this mess?
In this New York Times Magazine piece, Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto (who I’ve blogged about here and here) weighs in on the global financial crisis (see also his bio at the end of the piece for why he’s to be taken seriously):

Once it is clear that this recession is about the organization of knowledge or, more precisely, the lack of organization, Western governments can step in to get the facts. That will allow them to target the disease without getting stuck in the left-versus-right controversy about regulation and government oversight. We need increased truth-telling; increased recognition of what exists and who owns it.

6. Eugene Peterson, spiritual theology and relevance
Patton Dodd writes for on Eugene Peterson’s important and counter-cultural legacy within North American evangelicalism (and the irony that the world’s biggest rock star admires him):

When Peterson set out to make the Bible relevant, he didn’t mean to make it hip, or even successful. He meant to make it ordinary—to make it spiritual. He meant to show people that spirituality is nothing special as we normally understand “special.” It’s the quotidian quality of Jesus. In Peterson’s straightforward words, “life, life, and more life.” Peterson is straining to help Christian believers to understand that that message is the message of God.

7. “Far as the curse is found”
Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Seminary, writes a wonderful reflection based on the lyrics of “Joy to the World”:

There certainly is a lot of cursedness around these days. There are the “macro” curses of homelessness, poverty, political oppression, the sexual slave trade, religious persecution, whole populations devastated by war and disease. But there are also the “micro” curses that afflict many individual lives in highly personal ways: grief, abandonment, loneliness, abuse, fear of the future, difficult illnesses—and much more. The good news of Christmas is that Jesus has come—born a baby in the manger of Bethlehem… God chose to experience the curse in a very intimate way, experiencing our cursedness from the inside by becoming one of us. The final “conquering,” of course, came at the end, when Jesus was crucified, buried, and rose victoriously from the tomb. But it had to begin with his utter helplessness in the Bethlehem stable. “God with us”—in the cursedness of our helpless estate.

Repaso is intended as a thought-provoking compilation of news and commentary from the past week 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: Randy L. Rasmussen/The Oregonian via Buzzfeed]

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Peru begins taking anti-mining protests seriously

Picking up where I left off yesterday, and following up on a post from a month or so ago, it’s interesting that Peru has begun to revoke mining concessions, including a 36 month halt on any new concessions, in the wake of serious protests in Puno that have been going on for several weeks but that recently turned deadly when five protestors were killed by police as thousands of protestors took over a regional airport. CNN’s coverage notes that mining represents a huge portion of Peru’s economy, but quotes the country’s vice minister of mines as saying, “If the communities don’t want mining, it can’t be forced.”

If mining projects truly represented the golden ticket for community development for poor communities like mining companies claim, these protests wouldn’t be happening – or they’d be too small to be noteworthy.

The fact of the matter is that mining companies want access to these vast, lucrative mineral deposits. Peru wants foreign investment, and has seen its economy quickly grow because of it. But the men and women of Puno have taken to the streets – and have begun to lay down their lives – because it’s all happening on their land, but without their proper permission and without sufficient benefit to the local economy.

While it’s not exactly encouraging to hear about thousands of protestors taking over an airport and facing off with police, what’s worse is what led them to this point. If their voices were heard and their legal rights were respected – by businesses and by the government – it would be a much different (and probably much better) picture for all parties involved.

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Anti-mining demonstrations on the Peru-Bolivia border

On this blog I focus much of my attention on the indigenous opposition to an illegal gold mine operated by a Canadian company near my old hometown in Guatemala. I want people to care enough to pay attention, because ignoring situations of injustice never helps the victims — it always helps the oppressor. Put another way, silence does not equal neutrality.

Today I was sent a link by someone perhaps a bit like me, a North American who grew up in Peru and now sees his old hometown on the news as his childhood neighbors have taken to the streets in a desperate effort to save their dignity and prevent irreversible damage to their land and local economy. As you’ll see in the video below, these protests aren’t convenient for anyone, and certainly not for the protesters. But consider the reasons why these indigenous farmers would go to such lengths to make their voices heard. It’s not because they’re bored or looking for a “cause.”