The European Union is a mess with no one having the courage to do the obvious thing and deconstruct the Euro.
Is there any US politician capable of seeing the forest and not the trees? In Australia, Julia Gillard is leading the Labour Party to electoral oblivion but the alternative includes a politician who recently descended to such awful misogynistic depths re Ms Gillard that I refuse to publish a link to the story. (Or did he? In a comment below there is a link to a refutation of the story. But does the refutation stack up? Either way, Oz politics includes some shameless characters. Bit like the Oz cricket team).
Here in NZ we have an opposition Labour Party that includes hypocrisy the depths of which cannot be plumbed: excoriating Sky City (a gambling conglomerate) one moment, nek minit accepting their hospitality at a rugby match. In another saga, over one politician doing what (apparently) nearly all of them do, leaking stuff to the media, the depths of triviality also cannot be plumbed as they turn on one another.
If we head back to Britain we have the absurd spectacle of a nation which gave us the intellectual powerhouses of Oxford and Cambridge proposing that 2014 be a Year of Pretence in which no one will mention that Germany was responsible for the beginning of World War 1. Perhaps this is a practice run for 2033, the centenary of the rise of Hitler to power and thus the beginnings of the Holocaust, and for 2039, the centenary of ... oh, let's see, Poland causing the start of World War 2 because it had insufficiently armed itself as a deterrent against German
Meanwhile parts of the world are slowly being taken over by a rising tide of extreme Islamism. Not all Islamic societies are a worry, but some are notably troublesome. Here is Hamas intent on strangling the remnant of Arab Christianity which remains in Palestine. Syrian rebels executed a child the other day for alleged blasphemy. Daily the situation grows worse for Christians in Egypt and Iraq. Yet many Western politicians view Palestinian aspirations as uniformly good and beyond critique, while others want to arm the Syrian rebels and refrain from comment on other situations. There is something worrying about the manner in which Islamic loyalties can trump loyalties to countries that provide a new home for people, as in this example from Australia in which the beheading of Lee Rigby is justified because his actions affronted the Islam nation.
We face the prospect of a world in which beheading could be the normative response in many places to affronts to ruling authorities. But don't worry, our politicians have it all sorted ... once they can work out how to tell the truth, stop denigrating at each other, and acquire greater leadership skills than how to leak to the media without getting caught.
Where does light shine in the darkness enveloping us?
Hopefully it shines in and through the churches. In many ways it does, and for that I give thanks to God. If 2014 is the centenary of the lights going out over Europe, it might be the year in which the lights go on for Western Christianity and we really wake up to the fact that we live in a Post-Christendom world. In that world, the gospel is now just another story competing for attention. And little attention is being paid to it. For NZers, 2014 is the bicentenary of the first preaching of the gospel. Samuel Marsden spoke in English at Oihi on Christmas Day 2014. Ruatara translated for him.
English was then the language of Christendom. Maori was the language of those for whom the gospel was new news. In a Post Christendom world we need to translate the gospel for those for whom it is new news. Who is our Ruatara?
The next post will explore one important contributor to the role of translator of the gospel for today's world.