Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Paradise examined

After posting on Paradise yesterday I continued reflecting on the reality (in this life) of earthly paradise, and this morning a thoughtful comment came in from Andrew Reid pointing out that Christians need to love God more than this world and those who build paradise in this world could be reminded of the parable of the rich fool!

There is trouble in Paradise and other parts of Aotearoa NZ making claim to be paradisal. While it is hard in the January sun with blue water shimmering nearby to do some hard thinking, the reality of life in our fair land is that some have more than others. In terms of summer, not everyone can afford a lovely swimming pool in their backyard - I certainly cannot! In the city I called Paradise there has been an almost criminal laissez-faire attitude to "in fill" housing by the city council so that today some poorer citizens live in dreadful conditions - small houses with virtually no yards down a long shared driveway. Further, as the comment noted above, creation continues to groan, and thus wherever we live in these islands we are under threat of earthquake, floods and erosion. One irony of housing in Paradise is the most expensive houses sit on top of cliffs which are prone to erosion after 1 in 50 year storms.

In other words, as long as the sun shines here it is easy to be complacent. Part of the gospel is an attack on complacency, an urgent call to wake up to what lies below the surface of life which any moment can erupt as the judgement of God on how we live. But how is the church to shape its proclamation in word and deed so it disturbs complacency?

6 comments:

liturgy said...

Yes, Peter, thank you for your reflections.

In response to Perry’s question about analysis – we seem to have a fear of such honesty. Unlike other churches, the Anglican Church here would not have the slightest clue how many are attending our churches on a Sunday nationwide! Any local totals we do know are prettied up to save embarrassment.

The gap between rich and poor in NZ is one of the widest in the world; and I think that gap may be one of the fastest growing, possibly the fastest growing in the world. You mention houses: the affordability of housing is now certainly one of the worst in the world. Housing is a huge issue in poorer parts of Christchurch. Nationally, houses are of ridiculously poor quality. Inadequate building standards leave us with over a million houses of unacceptable standard; we don’t even talk any more about our leaky buildings issue – again, the wealthy, and the nation’s leaders are not living in them. You mention infill housing, this is only part of the uglification of God’s own paradise. Grey rectangular concrete tilt-slab-and-glass is the architectural embodiment of the soul-destroying spirituality-less state. Cf. the soaring, breath-taking vision embodied in Christian gothic.

Blessings

Bosco

Father Ron Smith said...

"But how is the church to shape its proclamation in word and deed so it disturbs complacency? - Peter C. -

Scripture, as usual, has an answer:

"This ia what God asks of you: only this - to ACT JUSTLY, to LOVE TENDERLY, and to WALK HUMBLY with your God." - Micah: 6: 8 -

'Justice, Tenderness & Mercy' looks pretty good to me as the objective of ministry in Christ's Church.

Shawn Herles said...

"the reality of life in our fair land is that some have more than others."

A perfectly normal situation. Economic equality is impossible in practice.

"some poorer citizens live in dreadful conditions - small houses with virtually no yards down a long shared driveway."

How is that "terrible"?

A child in India dying every twenty seconds from disease is terrible. A child dying in sub-Sahara Africa from starvation is terrible.

Living in "infill" housing does not even rate.



Peter Carrell said...

Hi Shawn
"Terrible" is relative, I agree. It would be terrible if I heard you were badly dealt with by an insurance firm (as many of our fellow citizens are); but not as terrible as the suffering of the starving in Africa.

Nevertheless, in Paradise, some dodgy zoning decisions have been made over the years which need not have been made and thus the situation would be less terrible than it is.

Anonymous said...

Mirabile dictu! I disagree with Bosco on lots of things - but find myself in agreement with just about everything he says in this post.
His point about the absence of Anglican church statistics is painfully true. Is this an ostrich mentality?
NZ's housing stock IS poor and every visitor to the land recognizes this.
The gap between the rich and the poor IS growing, and if it weren't for the economic safety valve that is Australia, I think you would have rioting on the streets. & even those in Oz are not doing well.

The real question is how do you reverse these bad economic indicators? - especially when they are linked to personal conduct, illegitimacy, single parenthood, drug abuse etc?

Martin

Janice said...

how do you reverse these bad economic indicators? - especially when they are linked to personal conduct, illegitimacy, single parenthood, drug abuse etc?

Well, I read once, in an article about churches in the poorer parts of cities, that a big problem is that people, once saved, tend to change their way of life. As a result, their lives become more stable and productive, their economic status improves and they move away to live in nicer parts of town.

So there you are. Evangelisation is the answer.