An Easter Conversation

Judy: “The Easter Bunny came to Kinder on Thursday.”
Me: “Oh, great. In a bunny suit too?”
Judy:  “No. No-one saw him. But he left his big footprints for everyone to see. And he brought chocolate eggs.”
Me: “I don’t suppose there was any mention of Calvary at kindergarten.”
Judy: “Ah, no, actually.”
Me: “How absolutely pathetic. Wouldn’t you think the education of our children might include a little information about why a society like Australia has public holidays at Easter?”
Judy: “You’d hope so, wouldn’t you? It’s not like you’d be ramming religion down their throats. Just give them the facts.”
Me: “Exactly. Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Monday are holidays because they are Christian religious festivals.”
Judy: “People may not celebrate them like that any more, but that’s the excuse for the holiday. It’s hypocritical, isn’t it?”
Me: “Maybe we should just add up the public holidays, cancel them, and add them to annual leave. It’d help the traffic congestion.”
Judy: “And we could only let people take holidays if they knew the reasons for them.”
Me: “Must put that idea to Jeff Kennett.”

Aid Has Been Found Wanting.

We must continually challenge the notion that aid to the developing world has been tried and found wanting.
It has not been tried.
Over Easter I saw the news about a plane the Americans have developed that nobody can see.
It cost us$44,000,000,000 - forty-four billion dollars.
If I spent that much on a plane, I would want everyone to see it.
The same day I read an article in The Economist about US overseas aid.
The total amount of development aid given by the United States to the whole of the rest of the world over the last ten years is only a little more than a hundred billion dollars.
What’s more, half of that has gone to just two countries. Can you guess which countries?
No, not Ethiopia, Bangladesh or Mozambique.
Israel. And Egypt.
Here’s a table of American foreign aid 1982-91:
El Salvador
The list does not, of course, include military aid.
Is it any wonder we have so much under-development in the world? And so much trouble with insecurity?

St Francis was wrong!

On the way back from Israel I had a rare privilege. A day off! Courtesy of Alitalia’s flight schedules.
I took advantage of this to visit Assisi, about two hours drive north of Rome (Italian drivers might take half the time to get there).
It was a beautiful and refreshing experience to wander and ponder in the place of this great Christian saint who turned his back on a life of money and privilege and became wedded to poverty.
I am impressed by this kind of sacrifice. I see it a lot in our own people in project communities. Such selfless sacrifice is worthy and commendable.
Yet, my reflections in Assisi lead me to think that such a response is not appropriate for all Christians.
Doubtless God does call some special saints to sell all they have and give to the poor, as Jesus expected of a rich young ruler.
But more commonly, Jesus calls us to be stewards of the resources he gives us, rather than to reject them.
The challenge to be a good steward, is different, but no less difficult, than the challenge to be permanently poor.
For me (perhaps not for everyone) the key Scripture on this matter is Matthew 25:14-30, the parable of the talents.
Most Christians are called, neither to poverty, nor prosperity, but to stewardship.
So it is for World Vision. We are stewards.