Sunday, October 31, 2010

IAYN meeting in Mexico -Friday.

On Friday we met with all the Bishops of this Province, which was a really good experience. The Archbishop, The Most Revd Carlos Touché-Porter, chaired the meeting the night before with the young people and translated for us. He expressed his gratitude that we had chosen Mexico for our meeting. He commented that several groups  had cancelled their time here due to the media reports about violence. He also said that since they had become and independent province in 1995 they had experienced a very real isolation. (Until that point they had been part of the TEC) The sentiment was echoed by the bishops on the Friday morning. They were all genuinely interested in what the Network does and how it could help their youth ministry. We then met with the Provincial Secretary who was really supportive and offered to help us make contact with several provinces in South America to develop our links with them.

Some of us went out that night. I had an Indio beer in a glass with salt around the rim, and with ice and lime in the bottom. Apart from it fizzing everywhere it was quite and unusual experience.

IAYN meeting in Mexico -Thursday.

On Thursday Douglas made us review what IAYN is doing and as a result we decided to develop a focus.

We discovered quite by accident (thanks God for the internet) while looking for something else that this year, right now is the UN International Year of Youth. So to help Anglican young people engage with this year, and to pick up the theme that has been a focus of several of the other Anglican Networks, that of eradicating gender based violence.

We began working on developing a resource called Ending Violence, which is basically one of the theological reflection processes I learnt as part of the Masters (the paper I did in 2004). On Thursday night we met with young people and young adults from Mexico City, all of whom are part of “the Happening” the youth version of Cursillo.  When Sally-Sue told them about this they were so enthusiastic. I was really taken by surprise. It helped me realise how institutional I can be. I kept thinking that the UN year “our year our voice” should/could be about the voice of young people in the church. How boring!!!

 These young people exploded with enthusiasm. This is an issue all young people face, violence in some way. And here at last was a church group saying, here is a way you can talk about this, talk about your experience, bring your faith to bear on it, talk about what this issue says to your faith, and find some ways to act to end the violence. It was great. I had to get up early the next morning and rewrite big chunks to take account of all the young people talked about. We spent all day Friday slowing working through what we had each written, and then we had another go today for one final revision. It was so helpful, having the stuff I had written picked to pieces and revamped, and I think it will work a whole lot better as well.

IAYN meeting in Mexico - Wednesday

Wednesday we worked on our journal Buenos Nuevas (Good News) this was supposed to come out last year, but we lacked an article from Africa. We didn’t think it was politic in today’s environment to publish it without that.  So we now have that, and it is all go. So we worked that up, and also decided on what our next one would be about (young people and the bible). We also started work on the when and where of the next Provincial Youth Officers Gathering. We are hoping for Hong Kong next August (I can’t go as I am on holiday with Bonnie).  If that falls through we have been invited to South Africa, in which case it would be in October. It is just a lot more expensive for most people to get to SA.

By lunch time I was beginning to feel better, which meant I could engage with the food a little more. Here they breakfast at 8.30 after morning prayer (which I didn’t quite make, either due to being asleep or working of various bits of work I agreed to do). This is a three course brekky, fruit, yoghurt, something cooked; then a big dinner at midday (well, 2ish) with three courses – soup, rice, meat with some greens, and then dessert. Supper is about 7, after evening prayer and is lighter, fruit or cold veggies, and then a meat and rice thing, followed by dessert. I am not starving. Chillies and salsa at all meal, even breakfast. I have not starved!!!

IAYN meeting in Mexico -Tuesday.

We were expecting one of our members was due to leave Johannesburg on the Monday afternoon and arrive Tuesday night. But Douglas had a sad email on Monday afternoon saying he had a flight coming through the USA and he did not have a visa, so could not board his plane. Help! What can he do??? Well, the travel agent took some time to find a way to get to Mexico without needing any more visas. It makes you realise how lucky we are as new Zealanders with the ease we travel around the world. Several days later we arranged via Facebook with him (his email stopped for awhile) to get him here by Friday night. It is great to have Maropeng here to add another voice to our thinking.

We began our meeting on Tuesday. Breakfast was at 8.30am, which I failed to get to on time. I was really tired, and by lunch was beginning to feel slightly unwell. We plodded our way through reports and began our other business. It was a slow day. We who had travelled were all tired. It was an interesting thing going to evening prayer that night which was all in Spanish. Having done that a bit my Spanish is improving. In fact I even have a tiny we little bit now. Amazing.

IAYN meeting in Mexico - Monday

Buenas dios from Mexico!!

So, what have we been up to? Meeting mainly.

We arrived on Mondayat 5.30am. Highlights of the day, after a short sleep, included going across the road to Sanborns, a kind of mall come department store, owned by the richest man in the world, Carlos Slim, and going to Coyoacan area, a lovely area full of restaurants and bars that night. We ate lots of yummy Mexican food, some of which is hot, and some not. It was grand. Sadly it was also a late night, 11.30 before I got to bed. Blah!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

IAYN meeting in Mexico

I am stting in Auckland airport waiting to board my place for LAX and then Mexico City, for an International Anglican Youth Network Steering Commitee meeting. I am hoping to be able to put up the odd (maybe really odd) post over the next two weeks about what we are talking about and what we hope to do.

Once our meeting finishes we will be staying on for the day of the dead celebrations. It should be lots of fun.

Crusades and Israeli settlements

This morning I happened to watch a TV programme on the Crusades. The presenter was a Muslim, which was interesting given the series is about the history of Christianity. 

He and those he interviewed made a few really interesting points. They described just how brutal and violent the crusaders were. They butchered their way around the Middle East, killing men, women and children. On some occasions cooking children on spits and eating them (that was recorded by the crusaders themselves). Awful stuff.

The first thing they noted was like Muslim extremists today, there was a clear link between this butchery and their faith. The Pope had granted indulgences for the taking of Jerusalem, and these knights saw it as their religious duty to kill as many people as possible for their faith, for Christ.  They entered Holy Sepulchre covered in the blood on civilians, and saw that as part of what they were there for.

Their second point is that the people of the Middle East remember, and the people of the West do not. They know what happened during the crusades because they keep retelling the stories, while in the West we simply have this notion of the crusades being all heroic and glamorous. So when the British took Jerusalem during WWI General Allenby pleaded with the British Government to not in any way link this with the crusades. He failed and they did. George W. Bush described the invasion of Iraq using crusader language and imagery.

Finally they talked about the rise of Saladin (Salah al-Din) who united the middle eastern world to rid it of the Western invaders. Note the language there. This was not seen as a Christian/Muslim conflict, but and East West conflict. As one of the Syrians interviewed said, there were and are a significant number of Christian living in the Middle East (It is where Christianity started.)

All this brings us to today. Al Qaeda constantly uses the crusader imagery in their broadcasts, and constantly invokes the name of Saladin. Like the crusaders they see killing and butchery as part of their faith. And they rely on those living in the Middle East to know their history, unlike the people of the West. Once again, people of the Middle East are being told to rise up and defeat the invaders from the West. And that has a lot of traction. Hence the carnage in Iraq.

The other really interesting thing about this is Israel. The leaders of Israel are Western Jews, not from the Middle East. They don’t know how middle easterners think. And they are too easily linked with the invaders from the West. One of the tactics of the crusaders was to build new cities populated by people from the West. Today, Israel again uses that old method to populate Palestinian land by building settlements. Sadly too often we hear American voices from the Jewish settler side showing little understanding of the world they now live in and all the arrogance of the crusaders of old.

It is hard in the face of all of that to hold out any hope for any real just peace for the Palestinians. And sadly, until there is such a peace, there can be no hope of real peace for Israeli Jews.