Archives For Hans Rosling

1. Sigur Rós and “worship music”
Sigur Rós’s new record comes out next week. I’ve long been moved by the band’s music, even though I don’t understand a word they sing. That’s one of the reasons I was especially interested to see Joshua Busman’s piece this week in The Other Journal’s Mediation blog on the ways music itself — including “worship music” — can communicate even apart from its lyrics.

2. Faithfulness sometimes hurts
I’m glad to see Jake Belder is blogging again. Here’s a recent post on recent discussions about the “culture war” and what faithfulness costs us:

I’ll be the first to agree that the ‘culture war’ mentality is problematic and unhelpful (I think James Davison Hunter makes an excellent critique of that paradigm in his book, To Change the World), but deciding that we should be the ones to set the terms for our faith is not the answer. This is simply idolatry, replacing the rule of Christ with our own authority… Trying to live faithfully under the lordship of Jesus Christ isn’t about making Christianity palatable to the culture around us. As it is, sometimes the total allegiance that Jesus demands will make it feel like we’re sitting all alone in a crowded room. Sometimes it is even going to hurt. But for Christians, it is the only option.

3. The Bible’s chief political concern
Last year I reviewed Tim Suttle’s book An Evangelical Social Gospel? for the Englewood Review of Books. Suttle blogs for the Huffington Post and recently he asked leading theologians, scholars and ethicists from different Christian streams — people like N.T. Wright, James K.A. Smith, Miroslav Volf, and Walter Brueggemann — what they considered the chief political concern in the Bible. They give some very interesting answers.

4. Gardens and democracy
Brian Dijkema writes for the Cardus blog about cultivating civic virtue, drawing on what he’s observed in a community garden in his own Canadian city:

Gardens might not save the world. They might not even save Canadian democracy. But the green shoots of civic virtue needed for healthy politics are cultivated there, and that’s a start.

5. Native American rights in the US
The UN’s James Anaya, who represents indigenous peoples around the world, was recently interviewed on NPR about concerns right here in the US:

The estimated 2.7 million Native Americans living in federally recognized tribal areas have to contend with problems like unemployment, alcoholism, sexual abuse, and suicide. Now a UN report is investigating the conditions of Native Americans in the U.S. Host Michel Martin speaks with S. James Anaya, the UN special rapporteur on indigenous peoples.

6. Hans Rosling on religions and babies
When Hans Rosling gives a TED Talk, I pay attention. Here’s a fascinating new one on birth rates and population growth among people of different religions.

Repaso is intended as a thought-provoking compilation of news and commentary from the past week related to the intersections of faith, development, justice and peace. As always, I welcome your thoughts on any of the links and ideas in this roundup!

[Photo credit: The Other Journal]

As I see it, there are two main camps when it comes to progress and development. There are many who point to the ways the world has improved for everyone thanks to capitalism. They have a lot of evidence to point to, and it’s encouraging. For example, there’s a video I love from the brilliant Hans Rosling, which demonstrates the rising tide of development (economic and otherwise) over the past 200 years. It’s so fun to watch that for four minutes one couldn’t possibly be blamed for forgetting why economics has been aptly dubbed the dismal science.

It’s truly remarkable, isn’t it? I think so. And as one working in the field of international development, it gives me hope that tackling poverty’s causes (and effects) is not necessarily a completely futile undertaking. Incredible progress has been made.

But business-as-usual isn’t really good enough, says the other camp, pointing to the widening gap between the rich and the poor, which Rosling touches on in the video. A new UN report has more on the growing disparity in our world. The tide may be rising, but it’s rising unevenly.

The Guardian‘s Poverty Matters blog makes a compelling case for the importance of not leaving the least developed countries behind.

Seeing the LDCs [least developed countries] emerge from development stagnation is a humanitarian challenge that is also in the interests of all of us. It is a forward movement that can also be an effective rearguard action, potentially sealing off global threats brought on by regional instability, extremist violence, transnational crime and infectious diseases.

It’s not in anyone’s best interest to let the disparity continue to grow. Focusing entirely on the average water level rising (which is what Rosling’s fantastic video mostly does) while ignoring the myriad indicators of inequality (which he also touches on) only creates further unrest in the long term.

I’d conclude with this: a low tide isn’t good for any of us, and the folks who get hung up on the widening gap need to come to terms with that. But living in a world of greater and greater disparity between and within countries is a problem I wish more of the “rising tide” evangelists would take seriously. If different camps of thinkers and dreamers and doers got together, refraining from trumpeting their respective air-tight economic and social ideologies long enough to get to know what life is like for actual people on the margins, we could maybe, just maybe, help close the gap without lowering the tide.