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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Ebola, ISIL, GFC and a Sunday Morning congregation


I write in some haste before going on holiday; these are rough notes toward an essay ...

The spread of the Ebola virus seems almost unstoppable as it has breached the barriers of Western borders and advanced health care systems.  A virus that has previously seemed the curse of the

poorest regions in Africa or Conrad's Heart of Darkness has now arrived and stirred fear amongst those who had previously felt safe.  Ebola seems to be a metaphor for our times.


For example Ebola could be likened to the manifestations of ISIL, spreading from the Middle East to the cities of the West and the New World, even it seems to a P.O.Box in Parnell; children brought up in urbane and privileged communities have become radicalised and disappeared into the darkness of ISIL and its appalling barbarism.  Though the epidemiology of this terrorism might be attributable to multiple forms of alienation, the sheer relentless cruelty of ISIL exceeds all explanations for its genesis and its expansion. Its behaviour not only exposes the human capacity for violence but something more sinister, the attraction of darkness masquerading as religious faith. (This has happened before, I am sure: in the West something similar must have happened with the Inquisition.)  The children of the privileged West have increasingly been brought up without any moral or spiritual formation to counter the appeal of ISIL - and my hunch is that the drift toward Jihadism reflects the spiritual emptiness of much Western society.

It is not that we have had no warnings about the problems we face.  Only a few years ago it seems that nearly every Sunday morning I was lamenting the Global Financial Crisis and I was enormously encouraged by the Occupy movement as we at last saw an almost global reaction against the abuses and injustices of the banks, corporations and the control of world finances by roughly 1% of the population.   Now we no longer hear of a GFC, the banks appear to be back where they were before and Occupy is no more.  At the heart of our economic order greed remains entrenched and the gap between affluent and poor widens still further.  The morning congregation is sparse and I wonder to whom one speaks?  The spiritual void flourishes in the self-centred secularism of New Zealand.

This year we are celebrating the bicentenary of the gospel in New Zealand.   I think we should be very careful about what we celebrate.


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