Archive for February 21st, 2010

Old soul song (for the new world order)

[Just as a preamble – no doubt you are aware of this but one of the sinle biggest determinants of health at all levels is your socio-economic background. And this does not just mean access to clean water and vaccines, it is also true in the affluent west.]

The world health organisation is an odd beast. It swings between saving millions of a lives a year with WHO solution and then trying not to get bogged down in arguments about how to redefine a heart attack using expensive biochemical tests, unavailable to the majority world. They even have a topic on CJD, which while potentially terrifying has not exactly set the world alight. And again largely irrelevant to the majority world as you have be able to afford meat to get it. Incidentally cannibals in the south pacific who eat the brains of their victims have a whole different topic.

But they do come up with wonderful things like this that articulate lots of what is wrong with the world and how to go about making an impact on it.

The BMJ covered it this month and made this great video [i’m afraid i can’t work out how to embed so you’ll have to click the link] with Micahel Marmot (incidentally the next head of the British Medical Association)

I like this guy. I’ll quote him:

…medicine, and in particular surgery is just failed prevention…


social injustice is killing people on a grand scale

My favourite quote (in relation to finding the funding) was this:

…we can find 2500 billion dollars in no time at all…

He refers to what was found in a matter of days to “fix” the financial crisis. He suggests a good start would be using 100 billion to upgrade the slums – where 1 billion people live.

[note it will take 10 billion dollars to provide clean water to the entire world]

He sees the financial crisis as an opportunity to make an impact on social inequality – now is the time to look at how we do our economics and how it affects the world. He suggests that our current method of unregulated markets has been repeatedly shown to fail and now is the time not to repeat it.

Monkey gone to heaven

I love this place

Man bailed as lemurs seized

Mission of GOD – 3

Wright moves on now to speak of GOD’s “model of restoration”. Of how things should be restored to something better than what they are.

This focuses on the concept of Jubilee – something that sprang to global (by which I mean Western global – poor people don’t know who Bono is) attention with the Jubilee 2000 debt campaign.

The system set out in Lev 25 (have you ever read Leviticus? Weird book. Good but weird) was essentially an “economic institution” (how we love those these days) that was to have a big role in the governance of how Israel conducted it’s affairs.

the primary purpose of jubilee was to preserve the socio-economic fabric of multiple-household land tenure and the comparative equality and independent viability of the smallest family-plus-land units. In other words, jubilee was intended for the survival and welfare of the families in Israel.

Let’s make this clear – from our point of view this is pretty radical stuff. If someone got into debt and had to sell the ancestral land then when 49 years were up – it would return to them. Giving the younger generation the chance to make a better go of it. It effectively stopped the rich getting richer. Unless of course they simply stepped out of the covenant commandments and let greed win the day.

GOD’s purpose in this had many factors, not least the “comparative equality” but also included the message that the Israelites did not own the land. It was GOD’s land before they arrived on it and GOD wanted to them to live as resident aliens, just as the resident aliens of the pagan peoples lived amongst them.

He quotes one guy talking about how jubilee subverts what we believe about money and robs it of its claims to eternal life. Wealth is no more permanent than life.

Wright looks at how jubilee crops up during the Bible and summaries its role thus:

At the level of fairly explicit allusion and implicit influence, the jubilee serves both as a symbol of future hope and as an ethical demand in the present.

Jesus’ own adoption of these subverting principles is part of what resulted in him on the cross. The declaration that JESUS is Lord implied Caesar wasn’t. He was not crucified because the Roman’s thought he was a religious nut, he was crucified because all that he stood for was a challenge to the status quo.

To quote Wright

… in all societies, political power depends on conventional acceptance of the way things are and always should be

Christianity in its best moments pulls the very foundations away from that.

The chapter ends with a plea not to divide the gospel into parts. The first, a gospel that only deals with peoples spiritual condition before GOD and the second a gospel that brings good news only to the political and socio-economic position. History (including Northern Ireland’s)  is full of examples of how this ends badly.

I read this book about 2 years ago which was built on long work by the Lausanne conference (who I think are meeting again this year) and it covers a lot of similar points. They have the very simple statement of:

the whole church taking the whole gospel to the whole world


February 2010