Salient Thought: an oxymoron?

My old friend, U2 junkie, classmate, and co-youth leader Steve is now editor at Salient The illustrious student magazine at Vic). Surely this deserves you a nice little plaque and photo in the foyer at Tawa College?

Anyway, one of his editorials provides very interesting food for thought.

While on the wane, the number of us who still believe in the notion of God is pretty significant. Perhaps that’s the biggest shock: because while nearly half of us think we are a Christian nation, our behaviour is paradoxically secular. If you consider our record for giving to the poor – one of the defining ideas of Christianity – I’ll show you what I mean. In Bob Geldof’s speech to the New Zealand Government last year, he claimed we are the second-least generous country in the world, with just 0.27 percent of our wealth going towards the poorest countries through government aid. While a variety of philosophies (Humanism, Buddism, etc) would also take issue with that statistic, other measures, like the widening gap between our rich and poor, show how far we are from J.C.’s intentions. Turning to the good and holy book (that’s being used as a door stop for half of you) we read that Jesus said righteousness is defined by whether we’ve fed the hungry, slaked the thirsty, clothed the naked, welcomed the stranger, and visited the prisoner. Also, despite the sixth commandment (thou shalt not kill), our homes are filled with violence. According to the National Party’s police spokesman, Chester Borrows, we have a higher murder rate than England. Divorce rates are not much better. This flies in the face of the bearded one’s lessons.

How does a relatively faithful nation get Jesus wrong? That question must be on the mind of Christian, Thomas Yadegary, an Iranian overstayer who was arrested two and a half years ago. Mirroring the appalling treatment of Ahmed Zaoui, Yadegary was not charged with, or convicted of, any crime. Since converting to Christianity in 1997, Yadagary has effectively created his own demise, because if deported to Iran, he faces the standard penalty for conversion from Islam: death. Despite numerous proverbs urging us to “show mercy” and “do justly,” this Christian remains behind bars. Lying there, Yadegary must be wondering whether his Bible has been replaced by Franz Kafka’s The Trial.

When a rich man came to Jesus one day and asked what he should do to get into Heaven, he was not told he should invest, spend, and let the benefits trickle down. Jesus said sell what you have, give the money to the poor, and follow me. In our nation, that unpopular idea flies in the face of our consumer-orientated lives. Whether we live in a Christian nation or not, this urge to satisfy ourselves is a powerful one; perhaps so powerful that even self-professed beliefs of us being a Christian nation are overcome by it.

Well done Steve.

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