Nils von Kalm

My take on faith, life and how it all might fit together

Category: Social Justice (page 1 of 3)

The forgotten Christians

Since the time of Jesus, millions of Christians have had a fascination with visiting the Holy Land. It is a pilgrimage for many of us, almost in the same way as visiting Mecca is for Muslims.

For much of my adult life I have wanted to visit the biblical sights in Israel, and last year I finally had the opportunity.

My work in the area of aid and development, as well as my passion for justice to be done for people living on the margins of society, had alerted me to the plight of Palestinians in the Holy Land. I didn’t know a whole lot about the conflict and its history, but I did know that Palestinians were the ones being oppressed and that therefore, as a follower of Jesus, I wanted to know more about the conflict from their point of view.

Our view of the world is determined by where we stand. Too often in Christian circles, we stand with those in power. If we stand with power, we will see the world from that point of view. This has been the case with Christendom ever since the time of Constantine. But if, like Jesus, we stand with the oppressed, we will see the world from their perspective.

This is where we need to understand something that is terribly misunderstood in the church: God plays favourites.

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The weeping prophet

Recently I preached at church on Jeremiah. It was part of a series on the good, bad and ugly of biblical figures. 

Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet. The bad and the ugly has more to do with what he had to confront the rulers with than his own character flaws.

Listen to the sermon here.

Download my notes here, and download the PowerPoint presentation here.

When I talk about justice they call me a leftie

Why you won’t be spending eternity in heaven

In case you haven’t seen it yet, my latest article on Christian Today has gone nuts. It’s obviously touched a nerve in one way or another with many people.

This article is probably my strongest one yet for Christian Today. I try to pull no punches in busting the myth that most Christians believe – that we will be spending eternity “up in heaven” with God when we die. Nothing could be further from the truth – literally.

Hope you get a lot out of it…

Why you won’t be spending eternity in heaven

When I was a young Christian, about 30 years ago, I was taught that the kingdom of God meant one thing and one thing only. It was the place those of us in Christ go to spend eternity with him when we die.

Why Australia is stingy and getting stingier

The below article in yesterday’s Age newspaper in Melbourne said a heck of a lot about how stingy our Federal Government has become in recent years in terms of our care for those living in poverty around the world.

Why Australia is stingy and getting stingier

Australians like to think their government is a big-hearted foreign aid donor. A recent opinion poll found voters believed our overseas aid budget to be about 10 times bigger, on average, than it actually was. In fact, Australia has never been an especially open-handed donor compared with many other wealthy countries.

While the article is excellent in what it points out, there is so much more to add. Here are some more facts about why cuts to our aid budget simply don’t make sense on so many levels, including economic ones:

1. Vanuatu
2. Tonga
3. Philippines
4. Guatemala
5. Solomon Islands
6. Bangladesh
7. Costa Rica
8. Cambodia
9. Papua New Guinea
10. El Salvador

Vanuatu, the beautiful tourist destination for many Australians, is the riskiest country in the world to live in, with natural disasters on average affecting more than a third of the population each year.

Countries are ranked in this report using the world risk index, which takes into account not only the frequency of natural disasters in each country, but also how well equipped the country is to cope with and recover from the effects of a disaster.

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  • The more foreign aid we give, the better it is for Australia. It’s in our national interest. The Australian Government agrees that its aid program is in our national interest. The Department of Foreign Affairs website says that, “the purpose of the aid program is to promote Australia’s national interests by contributing to sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction”. This is quite apart from the fact that it’s just the right thing to do. It’s sad that we have to appeal to our own self-interest to get our Government to hear this stuff, but that is the reality. It is better for Australia if there is less poverty in the world because it frees us up to trade and invest in countries that are able to do that. And it promotes stability.

To reduce our foreign aid giving simply doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, for the reasons stated in the article linked to above, and in my points.

What do you think? Are there any other reasons we should increase our foreign aid?

Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems

George Monbiot has written another insightful article, this one on the problem of neoliberalism, and the fact that most people in our neoliberal society don’t know what the term means.

Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems

Imagine if the people of the Soviet Union had never heard of communism. The ideology that dominates our lives has, for most of us, no name. Mention it in conversation and you’ll be rewarded with a shrug. Even if your listeners have heard the term before, they will struggle to define it.

Here are my thoughts on some of the points Monbiot makes:

  • “Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that “the market” delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning.”

Just like communism reduced people to cogs in a machine, neoliberalism, or market capitalism, does the same. We become consumers whose value lies in how much we contribute to the ongoing efficiency of the economic machine. We are not seen as having inherent dignity in ourselves.

  • “When political debate no longer speaks to us, people become responsive instead to slogans, symbols and sensation.” Think Tony Abbott and ‘stop the boats’ in Australia.

The rise of Bernie Sanders is as much a response to the current climate as is the rise of Donald Trump. The failure of the Left has been seen by them and is responding in the rise of Sanders.

“Like communism, neoliberalism is the God that failed”. I remember when communism fell over in the late 1980s, Jim Wallis said the same would happen to capitalism one day. It might take another generation, but we are seeing it happening now before our eyes.

  • “it’s not enough to oppose a broken system. A coherent alternative has to be proposed.” Perhaps one option (and there may be others along the lines of what people like Bernie Sanders are putting forward) is Tim Jackson’s Prosperity Without Growth.

The problem with unfettered market capitalism is that it is an amoral system. It doesn’t take into account human nature, the fact that humans are ultimately committed to their own self-interest. That’s why it needs people in poverty to survive.

The Inbreaking is here

screen-shot-2015-10-24-at-9-19-40-pmThe Inbreaking is Eden Parris’ third album, and his music still impacts me the same way it did when I first heard it about five years ago.

Having known Eden for quite a few years now, I have seen how his music and lyrics arise out of a genuine, searching faith that seeks to make real his passion for the kingdom of Jesus to come on earth as in heaven.

Eden’s music is a breath of fresh air in a world of Christian music that is largely manufactured for marketing purposes. Albums like The Inbreaking are strangely reminiscent of many of the old Christian hymns, not for their musical style but for their earthy, genuinely Christian theology.

The title and opening song of the album illustrates this eloquently. A song about the inbreaking of the kingdom of God in Jesus, it strongly reflects the hope of the outbreaks of God’s reign on earth that are being seen across this weary world.

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Instead of mega-church, micro-church!

What a wonderful example of what biblical church is all about!

If the poor are always with us, why bother trying to alleviate poverty?

Sight Magazine just posted my recent piece on Jesus’ oft misunderstood words when the woman anointed him with perfume.

God’s gentle, correcting sense of humour

jesus_ecce_homoI reckon God has a good chuckle at our self-assured theological convictions at times. In my case, I think God changes me and moulds me more into his character by using his sense of humour in a gentle, correcting, loving way.

A few years ago I went through a period where I would be critical of a particular denomination. When I saw the type of books that this denomination had in their bookstores and some of the churches I’d been to, and what I’ve heard come out of the mouths of some of its ministers, I have been adamant that I would never want to be part of a denomination that was so wishy-washy about what they believed in the name of being inclusive.

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