Saturday, January 14, 2006

We Care About Africa - Really

Over Christmas break I was at my mother-in-law's, and during a down time browsed through a Time magazine she had from the holiday season last year, 2004. The cover story was something about the birth of Jesus, but what caught my attention was the last page essay by Simon Robinson commenting on efforts by gatherings of renowned musical artists such as Band Aid to sell original Christmas music and use the proceeds to advance African relief efforts.

The previous home page piece on my website The Catholicist Nation was a critique of One.org's valiant but futile attempts to bring prosperity to Africa. (You may read that critique here) I brought up items that were confirmed by Robinson's piece, and I just wanted to draw attention to them.

He elaborates on something we should all know but don't get, that the real issue is not environmental but spiritual, it is their sin that causes the lack, not the other way around. He says, "the continent's famines are caused by strongmen who use food as a weapon against their enemies... lack of infrastructure and investment, kleptocratic leaders and barriers to growth like European and American farm subsidies that price Africa out of the market... More aid is probably not the answer." (Emphasis mine)

All of these come about because people don't care enough about those around them to do what they really must to live fruitfully. What you see here is abuse of power, theft, dishonor and disrespect of individuals and their abilities-- all things motivated by fear, something that only Jesus Christ can drive out.

In fact the subtitle of his essay is "Band Aid's intentions are good, but Africa needs more than a Christmas jingle." Like all who dismiss the power of Jesus Christ to blow people away with massive abundance and joy, he mostly just leaves Africa's plight right there on our frontal lobes. He concludes with the words of his own Christmas tune that includes all the aforementioned factors. Yep, there they are, there being very bad, yeah that's awful. But that's it.

What about mentioning the one thing that'd make it so those things wouldn't be happening?

Can't do, because well, the intractible high-profile Catholicists of the world-- among them Band Aid members and Time magazine essayists-- would then have nothing to do.

Who exactly is that One who'd radically change things in Africa? Look here to see.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Racket

Anyone been paying attention to the legal situation involving lobbyist Jack Abramoff? It is actually big news because it may bring to light the corruption of several high-profile politicians. But I don't know if many are really watching because his activities are thought to be so complicated.

What he did is not a whole lot different than running a racket, essentially an operation in which people are persuaded to pay big money because they are fearful that if they don't pay it, bad things will happen. In this case-- at the cost of being overly simplistic-- Abramoff convinced Native American tribes that they could get cool government things (to keep them from having those bad things happen) if they gave him a lot of money, and he in turn paid Congresspersons to get those cool things, who took the money (sometimes in the form of "perks") because they wanted their piece of the action. Abramoff skimmed his cut off the top, elaborately lied about it, and will now be going to prison.

Anyway, to get a fuller picture of exactly what the racketeer does, check out my newest home page piece at my website The Catholicist Nation.