Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Doggedly against Dogmatism

I've just finished reading My life as a traitor by Zarah Ghahramani. Its a harrowing tale by an Iranian woman of how she was held and tortured in a notorious prison in Tehran for speaking out against the regime. There is much I could write about from this book, but I'll concentrate on one observation: her disdain for religious mullahs was fueled by their uncompromising dogmatism.

The interesting thing is that while she cites the mullahs as a prime example (and illustrates this with some of their bizarre pronouncements made in her lifetime), she postulates that any religious leader can fall into the same trap be they Muslim, Buddhist, or Christian. Its the dogmatism thats the problem, not the religious badge being carried.

Zarah is clearly a spiritual woman. Her mother was in fact Zoroastrian, her father Muslim, and her writing demonstrates a spiritual side to her, embracing aspects of both faiths and a basic belief in some kind of God. Coupled with that she has a zest for life (which incidentally was trashed by her prison experience). What is repugnant to her is mindless rules and regulations, especially on trivial detail, that in any case often betrays the proponents as hypocrites. That kind of resonates with Jesus' skirmishes with the Pharisees doesn't it?

There is a lesson in there for Christian mission. Are we showing the Zarah's of this world just another set of dogmas, or how their zest for life can truly find fulfillment?

Thursday, 8 July 2010

What will be found in the end?

Recently I heard a lecture where it was suggested that an argument in favour of social action can be made from an eschatological perspective. In outline it asks "what will be found in the end?". Will it reveal that an effort was made whilst still here on earth as we know it, or will we have effectively hid our salvation in the ground?

Matt 24:36 through to 25:46 seems to weigh in here.
  • Faithful & wise servants will get on with their assigned tasks and not squander/mis-use their resources or time
  • A call for readiness, being prepared for that end-time moment
  • Proper investment action rather than static preservation
  • The caring for the needy
If we take the 'least of these' to be generally the poor rather than just Christians (some would disagree on this) then there is a progression to be seen:
  • Stick to the task throughout the waiting ...
  • because you need to be ready when the right time comes ...
  • a readiness demonstrated by what you have done ...
  • with the investment currency being work amongst the poor
So what will be found in the end? A static salvation preserved carefully in the ground, or the fruit of an ongoing investment in those in need around us, biased to the poor.