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25 May 2015: Marcus Borg’s latest book ‘Convictions’ Chapts 9 & 10 – led by Heidrun

Chapt 9 Justice   This chapter draws on the book of Amos as the primary source for the call to economic justice. Amos was brave and focussed on ‘speaking truth to power’. Micah and Amos were contemporaries: Amos in Judah and Micah in Israel. Amos challenges the economic system that also challenges some religious traditions as well – the rich religious people who did little to help others. So who are today’s Amos’? Suggestions included Liberation theology in Sth America, Malala Yousafzai, Jim Wallis, Nelson Mandela, Bishop Tutu, Dali Lama, Ghandi, Salvation Army, Bryan Bruce, Pope Francis, Ian Harris.

Conservatives, and especially those in the US, see no obligation (or benefit) in creating a just society and to work for the common good, instead are content with charitable acts by individuals. At present the majority of first world governments are on the political right and hence this individualism is a common theme. Is it significant that many of the same countries have a strong Christian heritage or proclaim to be ‘Christian’? We noted that roles involving helping people are far less valued (ie less well paid) than those roles aimed at making money. The rich are powerful and so can ‘manipulate’ the systems to further increase their advantages. Amos would have plenty to say about our economic systems today.

Chapt 10 Peace   Borg outlines 4 attitudes to peace and violence: non-violence/passive resistance, just war as a last resort, Holy war – anything goes and Conventional acceptance – the Government knows best. ISIS provides an example of a huge stumbling block in for those supporting non-violence; ISIS would seem to support a ‘just war’; others and ISIS themselves see the situation as a Holy War – our god is bigger. Paradoxically, there has been a steady decline in the number of wars and numbers killed/injured over the last 500 years – NZ’s nuclear ban being a small contributor. The overall trend is positive but regional conflicts are still very destructive and the level of suffering for those affected as serious as ever.