Christians and other small communities in the Middle East and North Africa face an uncertain and sometimes dangerous situation in which fear is understandable, acknowledges Dr Harry Hagopian. But there is still good reason to resist being overly gripped by insularity and despair, to question the agenda of hierarchs, and to try to respond positively to the grassroots change that will continue to sweep the region over the coming year and beyond.
It is three years since the devastating Haiti earthquake. Pascale Palmer from the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development looks at the task of rebuilding supported by CAFOD and others, and the immense challenges faced by the people of the country. She also draws attention to a campaign for changes in the global food system that could help prevent food insecurity in countries like Haiti.
The gap between very high incomes and low salaries has been widening for several years, says Laurent Schlumberger, president of the national council of the Reformed Church of France. Where governments and consumers are reluctant to act, there is still a moral imperative on high earners to refuse grossly unequal remuneration, he argues.
It is not possible to predict with any sense of certainty how affairs will develop across the Middle East and North Africa region in 2013. What can be seen, writes regional analyst Dr Harry Hagopian, is that we are in the midst of a grand reshaping of all the regional assumptions that have stood for almost a generation. Something has made the pulse of this region race faster, and that cannot be undone. Now, we are seeking the calm in eye of the storm, and we will possibly do so for some time to come.
How does God communicate with us when words are not adequate? How can we even try to talk of God when literal language so lets us down? Mark Wakelin, President of the Methodist Conference, says that the whole point of the Christmas story is to show us that the God of Jesus Christ is disclosed in humanity, vulnerability and personalness, rather than abstract theory or proposition. Like love, this calls for a personal and social response within the life of the world.
Many thousands of disabled people with serious musculo-skeletal conditions, serious heart conditions or respiratory difficulties, cerebral palsy, neurological conditions such as MS and ME and many more will no longer benefit from the Motability vehicle scheme under new government proposals, writes Jane Young. Their car will simply be taken away before they have a chance to appeal. In this article she explains what is happening under proposals for the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and how concerned individuals and organisations can respond.
The critical religion school has taught us to see the colonial invention of world religions and their relegation to private space, says Alex Henley from the University of Manchester. But an emphasis on the bulldozing force of secular colonial power may obscure the resilience of local histories. This article is a reflection on a recent workshop discussion with Professor Ahmed Ragab and Dr Aria Nakissa at Harvard’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies.
At the end of a recent speech to the Centre for Social Justice, John Cruddas MP made a rightful appeal for extended local democracy, says political theologian Graeme Smith. But he got there by caricaturing John Stuart Mill, mystifying Aristotle and elevating a confused communitarianism over the proper role of a democratic state in embedding social justice. This warmed-over Blue Labourism needs some serious questioning in terms of its historical understanding and political roots, he suggests.
What are some of the implications of the discussion of critical religion for feminist and gender theory making? The gendered binaries of spiritual/material or spirit/flesh still haunt us, says Dr Alison Jasper, in the tendency to regard women and the female as better fitted for certain roles that tend to be less well rewarded in terms of money and influence.
It is widely acknowledged among those who still care that academia in the UK is in very serious trouble, says Dr Michael Marten from the University of Stirling. The most infamous embodiment of the current malaise is a mechanism imposed upon universities by successive Westminster governments: a system of ‘research assessment’ driven by an ideology of neo-liberal commodification. Alternative perspectives and mechanisms are badly needed, he says.
In recognising the human endurance, perseverance, vision, humility, lack of bitterness and political ability that characterised Nelson Mandela, analyst and Ekklesia associate Dr Harry Hagopian looks at the response of Palestinians and others from the Middle East and North Africa region to his passing. There are uncomfortable truths to be faced in all this, he suggests.
History was made at the UN climate talks last week – not by the achievement of a breakthrough in negotiations, unfortunately, but by the unprecedented walk-out by 800 civil society groups and trade unions, says Caroline Lucas MP, assessing what has happened and what needs to happen next.