Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ethical Economics

So just in this last week a sweatshop in India was discovered. According to various reports there were 14 pre-teen children working up to 16 hours a day, being beaten with rubber tubes if they misbehaved, crouching on their haunches all day because they didn't have chairs or benches to work on, the lucky ones were paid $0.12 per day; the unlucky were paid nothing. One report says that the hallways of the workplace were filled with human feces from an overflowing toilet (Here I've googled "Gap, Sweatshop" for you in google news).

The guilty employer this time around: GAP.

Now, I'm not big on boycotts and picketing and all that kind of stuff. I think that it's largely a waste of time and gives the wrong kind of publicity. However, the "Fair Trade" movement is something that I can get behind. The idea behind fair trade is that we as North Americans, the richest people in the world, should not be taking advantage of the third world nations by using them to increase our wealth.

Really, it shouldn't be a bad thing that the Gap has a workshop in India. In fact, it could be a great thing for the Gap to do... if they treated their workers humanely and paid them a good wage. If they did that they could actually be making a difference in the third world by helping to stimulate their economy and supporting local families and neighbourhoods.

Unfortunately, this is not the case.

The fair trade movement is all about making sure that workers all around the world are being paid an honest wage for an honest day's work. The easiest way to do this is to find brands that are "fair trade certified" and to create a demand for these products by buying them and excluding brands that aren't certified. By this method we can, bit by bit, make a difference in the third world economies. Look for this logo on your products.

Please check out this website: Fair Trade Concepts. A christian guy named Stacey Toewes runs this site. I've heard him speak on this topic a number of times.

Remember Psalm 82:3-43

"Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless;

maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.

Rescue the weak and needy;

deliver them from the hand of the wicked."


How can we as Christians become "ethically responsible consumers"?

Should big issues like this be dealt with by the church or by governments?

Are there two sides to the story?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Time for Eternity

In our Small Group the last week or two we've ended up talking about Heaven, time, and eternity. We talked about a lot of things like, are the descriptions of heaven that we have in the Bible literal or figurative (how does John describe unearthly things while being limited by earthly language)?

But in our discussion of eternity, one of our group members threw out a wonderfully intriguing idea: What if time is not linear?

The modern mindset with all of it's science and logic has taught us to think of time in a very... well... chronological manner . Now, yes, our own life experience displays time to us as linear but, of course, our own life-span is very limited. So what if we're wrong?

What if time is not a "line" but a "soup" (to use her words)?

What if time is not a "stream" but an "ocean"?

For me, this may help me understand God's place both inside and outside of time. Christianity insists, rightfully so, that God acts and intercedes in human history. Yet God is also, according to Christian doctrine, "outside" of time; not subject to it as He created it.

So, if time is an ocean and our lives are but one current in it's vast expanse; if our lives are but the undertow in the unexplored depths of eternity; is not God able to swim in and out each current wherever He wishes? In this way God is fully capable of acting and interceding at any and all points of history as He wills.

CS Lewis toyed with some of these ideas in his story, "The Dark Tower". Unfortunately, he never finished the story and so it has been published (in it's unfinished form) posthumously. It's just as good as the rest of his fiction and ends just as it's getting really good.

Anyway, in this novel He plays with the concept of time as "uni-linear". What if there are parallel times (ie. in our terms multiple, parallel currents within the ocean of time)?

Do you have any other ideas, models, concepts, or analogies to offer us?

How do you think of eternal life?

How do you think God interacts throughout all history?

Does eternity make your mind hurt?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Art and Literature

I have grown to appreciate the art of Stanley Donwood. I know him best as the conceptual artist for the band, Radiohead, however his 'solo' works are equally intriguing. One of his series of paintings features city maps that he has painted over. On the top you see "London" and on the bottom, "Hollywood". Yes, very post-modern.

I think they are kind of facinating. What do you think? (click on them for a higher resolution)

On a different note, here (above) is my favourite new commercial. It makes me all warm on the inside.

Now go read a book!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


Recently I have been thinking about Primogeniture (firstborn rites and customs) and the theological significance of the first child born in a family unit.

Just to give you an idea of what I'm talking about, in the NIV translation of the Bible, the term "firstborn" is used 132 times. Obviously there is something of significance here. After all "salvation" (usually considered a more important Christian concept) is only said 122 times!

Most of the time we see scripture talking about firstborn rites I think we automatically write it off as mostly cultural. There's obviously some truth to this as primogeniture is not unique to ancient Israel. Most cultures of the Ancient Near East practiced very similar firstborn customs.

But then you read scriptures like Ex 34:19"The first offspring of every womb belongs to me..." or Ex 13:22 "Consecrate to me every firstborn male. The first offspring of every womb among the Israelites belongs to me, whether man or animal." As well, the firstborn of every family received a double inheritance when his father died.

And this isn't just a strange Old Testament thing either (not that it should be ignored even if it was). Jesus is considered by Paul to be the "firstborn among many brothers" in the family of God (Rom 8:29). Jesus is also called the Firstborn: "over all creation" (Col 1:15) and "from among the dead" (Col 1:18, Rev 1:5). In other words, being the "firstborn" is essential to the identity of the Christ.

So, is there anything to primogeniture for us today?
Is this just a cultural thing?
Is it just a theological thing?
Is primogeniture more important than salvation!?

Friday, October 5, 2007

A Post-modern view of the Modern world:

Life in the Post-modern world:

Art by Radiohead and artist Stanley Donwood.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


Hey! You there. Stop what you're doing and go buy the new David Crowder* Band album: Remedy.

"Where there is pain...

let us bring grace.

Where there is suffering, bring serenity,

for those afraid, let us be brave.

Where there is misery, let us bring relief,

let us be the remedy."