Lending to the poor can increase their power to make wealth if it is used to purchase a means of production of some sort. But the power to make wealth is in turn decreased by interest payments. The interest payments ensure that funds generated from the means of production simply return to the lender. At the end of 12 months the microfinance scheme has received their capital plus 40% back again but what has the poor person got “in hand” after a years work? Probably nothing, other than the means of production (such as a sewing machine), that they purchased. They are unlikely to have made a wage at all. The interest payments have entirely consumed their power to make wealth.Anybody with more information on this?
Some may ask “If the micro-finance schemes were stopped from charging interest to the poor how could the poor get access to capital?” In some senses that is a good question, in other ways it is a quite mistaken question. “Access to capital” implies that the poor are best off starting a small business, which needs capital.
Small business is not all its cracked up to be. Even in the West 85% of small businesses fail within five years and 95% of people who go into small business would have been better off financially if they had simply been in full-time employment. What I am saying is that the poor generally do not need funds to start small businesses – they need jobs that pay a fair wage. What the poor need is not access to capital but access to liquidity. They need to be able to borrow money to pay a medical bill when it is due and then repay that money without being charged interest. Basically they need an interest free overdraft facility and a decent job. Thus I believe that microfinance should rethink itself as an interest free overdraft facility for the poor.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
I've been thinking about giving some money to an organization that is involved in microfinancing. I'm rethinking that idea, after reading an article on How Economic Injustice Is Producing Angry People. The biblical principle that I had to be reminded of is the prohibition to charge interest.
Many churches now have songs and Bible passages projected on a screen. It falls on the person entering the lyrics and verses to get the words right. But everyone makes mistakes, right? So sometimes you come across a typo that's good for a chuckle. Here's one we've come across:
From Matt Redman's song "Blessed Be Your Name":
From Matt Redman's song "Blessed Be Your Name":
Blessed be Your nameI'm a little scared to ask this, but what funny typos have you come across?
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be Your name
When I'm found in the dessert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be Your nam
Saturday, March 29, 2008
When I was a young Christian, one of the men whose teachings had a tremendous influence on my life was Alan Redpath. Recently I came across the text of a message he preached at Urbana 54 (ahem ... just to make it clear, this was before my time).
Is Christian North America ready to pay the price? I say that to my own heart as much as to you. Stop and think a bit. How much in our methods has been spectacular? How much appeals to the flesh? How much needs no travail, but only a business head or good organizational ability to set up a program? When Zion travails, she brings forth her children. When the Church is prepared to die, she shall live in resurrection life.
The commission of Jesus Christ has never been "entertain them, teach them jazz choruses, do anything to get converts." The challenge of the New Testament commission of Christ is the absolute supremacy of Jesus Christ within His Church, resulting in the outpoured fullness of the Holy Ghost through His Church. There is the dynamic feature of conviction of sin, the encouragement of hastening the tremendous and thrilling day when the accomplishment of all His purpose shall be complete and Jesus Christ shall come and take His people home.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Thomas Madden writes that the year-old "Lost Tomb of Jesus" controversy is Not Dead Yet.
On January 13-16, 2008, the Princeton Theological Seminary hosted a symposium in Jerusalem that brought together leading scholars and archaeologists.... [Simcha] Jacobovici attended as well, as did plenty of news cameras and journalists. When it was all over, Time reported that the symposium’s experts were “deeply divided” on the question of whether this was the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth or not. Jacobovici described himself as “vindicated.” And there was even a bombshell: The widow of Joseph Gat, one of the original archaeologists of the tomb, claimed that her husband had always believed it was the tomb of Jesus but had remained silent because he feared a backlash of anti-Semitism. Time and CNN left the impression that the stuffy scholarly community was finally coming around.
When the symposium’s scholars returned home and picked up their copy of Time or switched on CNN, they got quite a shock. Deeply divided? That wasn’t the symposium that they had attended. Aside from that Naked Archaeologist sitting in the corner, they couldn’t remember much of anyone arguing that the Talpiot Tomb belonged to Jesus of Nazareth. Why did CNN give all that air time to Jacobovici and none at all to the fifty-some experts taking part in the symposium? They were upset, to say the least.
And so the experts revolted. Geza Vermes, a fellow of the British Academy and professor emeritus of Jewish Studies at Oxford University, wrote that the arguments of Jacobovici and the documentary were “not just unconvincing but insignificant” and “most of the fifty or so participants shared this opinion.” A long list of distinguished symposium attendees wrote their own letter decrying the press reports: “Nothing further from the truth can be deduced from the discussion and presentations.” They noted that the deceased Mr. Gat, whatever he may or may not have said, “lacked the expertise to read the inscriptions” on the ossuaries. “To conclude, we wish to protest the misrepresentation of the conference proceedings in the media, and make it clear that the majority of scholars in attendance — including all of the archaeologists and epigraphers who presented papers relating to the tomb — either reject the identification of the Talpiot tomb as belonging to Jesus’ family or find this claim highly speculative.”
If the scholars were expecting an apology from Time or CNN, they were sorely disappointed. Neither one seems to have even noticed their protest. Both organizations still have the stories posted on their websites. After all, archaeologists are such spoilsports. There’s no sense in letting them ruin a perfectly good story.
The scholarly case on the tomb may be essentially closed, but the sensationalist fantasies are alive and well. After all, Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code, can’t make all the money, can he? It’s frustrating, though — particularly for scholars who have spent their careers trying to uncover and disseminate the truth. One cheesy documentary, it seems, is worth a thousand good books and journal articles.
In time, though, the Lost Tomb of Jesus and its parent, The Da Vinci Code, will fade away, joining the long parade of past pseudo-history fads like Erich Von Daniken’s Chariot of the Gods? and Immanuel Velikovsky’s Worlds in Collision.
Christians will just have to make due with the Empty Tomb.
Friday, March 21, 2008
Chris Freet writes on Church as "Extended Family" (HT: Alan Knox).
In this world of broken families I think it would be hard for many to view other followers of Christ as family. To some it may even be viewed as another opportunity for them to get hurt or burned by another human being.
With that said, the believer, with the help of the indwelling Spirit, can and will grow in the ability to view the church as the family of God. This goes against our individualistic culture and tradition in which we find ourselves today. Let us once again see one another as our "brother" and "sister" under our heavenly Father's guidance.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
It's one thing for churches to say we should plant churches. It's another thing for churches to actually plant churches. Michael Mckinley has begun a series of posts on "how you as a pastor can help your church plant another church." His first point: "Don't build your church around yourself."
If you teach your people (subtly or not so subtly) that you are the center of the show and that they are lucky to have a pastor like you, then don't be surprised when they don't want to sacrificially go out with a younger guy to embrace the hard work of church planting. But if you teach your people that they are part of a church in order to sacrificially build the kingdom and spread the gospel, they will have a category for leaving to plant a new church.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Rick Meigs summarizes and paraphrases The Four "P's" of Missional from Michael Frost:
Proximity: We step into the experience of those we seek to win and serve. We need to step out of our comfort zone and move into proximity of those who would not be in our normal circle of friends. Ministry happens in the neighborhoods.Posting has been light recently, and will probably continue to be spotty for a few weeks.
Presences: We are to practice the presence of Christ in the midst of the world. We should be doing what Christ would have been doing if he was still physically walking in this world.
Powerlessness: Not spiritual powerlessness, but material or temporal powerlessness. Most Americans look at our churches and think that we represent a power base. They see us with enormous reserves of money, gigantic buildings, fabulous property – absolute power in a temporal sense. They think we will do anything to protect this power. Image if we could prove to Americans that the following of Jesus is worth more to us than the stuff of religious institutionalism. What would happen if we lost or gave up all “the churches” material wealth and only had the people left? Would we discover something about our spiritual power if we stopped relying on our temporal and material power?
Proclamation: Should we actually tell people about Jesus? If we move into the neighborhood and build relational proximity and are the presence of Jesus, going empty handed and naked as the powerless ones, sooner or later someone is going to want to know who you are and why you do what you do. The answer to that question is of course the proclamation of the person of Jesus. Without this proclamation we will be seen as just another good person. Of what value is that?
Sunday, March 09, 2008
The Please Convince Me website has a series of videos presenting a visual case for Christian theism, called A Wallet, A Dollar and the Existence of God (HT: Stand to Reason). They write:
The following visual presentation and argument for Christian Theism evolved out of a series of informal discussions about the nature of our universe, and the nature of the force that caused this universe to exist. Along the way, an object lesson (of sorts) developed, utilizing a wallet and a dollar to make the points in a three step process from theism to personal theism to Christian theism. We are now making this object lesson available to you as a web page, a series of videos and printed training materials. We hope that you can also use the illustration as you dialog with your friends and family about the existence and nature of the 'first cause' of the universe...Click on the link above and then scroll down about 3/4s of the page to watch the videos.