Friday, September 23, 2005

Long meeting

Friday, meant to be a day off. But at 4.00 I was summoned to the Governors office. Some fighting, some conflict. About 20 old men had come from Pashtunkot, a nearby district to complain about a notorious commander who had apparently sent men there, to harass and harangue. Some RPGs were fired, one man shot after doing his prayers. As usual there were 10 different versions of the truth, but most apparent and forcefully so was the utter stench of 20 old mens bare feet in the meeting room. Fortunately I was at the right hand of the Governor, a senior position, so the stench, heavy as it was, crawled towards me slowly, dissappating as it came. Those further down the room sat with eyes bulging and teeth and buttocks clenched.
We got out of there at 7.45pm, in time for me to walk home in the darkening night.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Why I believe

I have been trying to think why I am staying part of the movement of Jesus. There are not many compelling reasons to.

For months now, I find myself alienated from the bulk of Christians and the common ground we share is so tiny that any journey therein is virtually meaningless. Most expressions of the Christian faith I find triumphalistic, shallow, self-absorbed, excessive and irrelevant. Church is far more a cozy, comfortable retreat from the world than a place to encounter and reflect on its problems and sufferings. I’m not into evangelism, bible study, worship or prayer and when I last spoke at a church I was banned thereafter.

Yet I still believe. And it is not because I am convinced there is a heaven, or a hell, or even particularly concerned. It’s not because I am convinced that the bible is infallible as I don’t think it needs to be: neither the bible nor Christians have a monopoly on truth or spirituality, that should be very evident. It’s not because I worry about whether God loves me or not, it’s not because I think it is only through conscious affirmation of Jesus’ uniqueness that man can be saved. Or woman.

Here is why I am still committed to the way of Jesus.

1. Jesus was a historical figure. We know that. We also have a reasonable idea of his teachings and what he said – even if you want to allow for a large percentage of distortion and collusion, you can still get an idea of what he was on about with reasonable accuracy.
2. People are spiritual. That’s a fact – the majority of the world’s people believe something, and even most white, western, post-modern atheists when pressed reveal some spiritual values.
3. The way Jesus talked about spirituality is cogent, compelling and convincing. The spirituality he described and advocated does not ever justify or recommend violence, physical or spiritual. It advocates openness and inclusion, freedom, not coercion.
It describes a spiritual life of mutual accountability and endorses the search for truth as paramount, and the practice of justice and charity – but determining what these things actually mean, here and now, should occur in mutual, humble conversation. They are not codified, which would of course lead to tyranny. (– a note here: Paul does codify. He starts describing what is right and wrong, what is allowable and what isn’t. Jesus doesn’t do that. That’s why I am skeptical of Paul and the writings of the other apostles. Maybe we would be better off if all we had was the four gospels…)

With the probable exception of Buddhism, (and maybe Indigenous Dreamtime beliefs and Native American beliefs are similarly constructed, but I don’t know enough about them), any other major religion if taken to its logical endpoint, ends up in tyranny and totalitarianism. They have to, if people are serious.

The evidence of that is everywhere.. .Of course, Christianity has been construed thus, also and currently is, by many Christians, worldwide. But a careful and honest reading of the spiritual life as advocated by Jesus cannot ever justify that.

Unfortunately, mostly, the Christian faith ends up looking like any other faith, religion, club or sport, with the rules set up and the aim being to defeat the opponents. Jesus would spin in his grave, if he were there.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Jobs at UN in Afghanistan

Anyone want to work with the UN

...As you know, the UNAMA mission is always eager to find good Political Affairs Officers. Please circulate this information among friends you know that would have the skills needed and the interest of joining our mission. As the end of the year approaches and many colleagues begin to think about next steps, it is important that we keep our field offices well staffed.

If you know of any interested candidates, please hvae them apply online to Galaxy.

So anyone interested, the link to Galaxy is at the right (UN jobs). also let me know so I can alert Personnel.

Monday, September 19, 2005

A bad photo of the cover... Posted by Picasa

From Under a Leaky Roof. Bestseller!

From Under a Leaky Roof...
Afghan Refugees in Australia
Phil Sparrow
PUBLICATION DATE: December ISBN: 1 92106 436 6 RRP: $24.95 GENRE: History/Cultural Studies From Under a Leaky Roof … traces the journey of many of the Afghan refugees currently in Australia — from discrimination and persecution under the Soviet, Mujahideen and Taliban regimes to the incarceration, and discrimination they now experience in Australia. Philip Sparrow, a UN aid-worker, suggests more durable and humane approaches which should be adopted for those who have been forced from their homes

So, here it is. My first book (if you don’t count “The night the robbers came”, written age 7: a great story about some robbers ripping off presents. Saint Nick foils them. Publishers pls contact me for rights).

Az zer-e chakah gorekt wa zer-e baran neshast - he ran out from under the leaky roof and found himself in the rain. It's an Afghan proverb, and an apt title for the book, which is out on December 1.

In the words of reviewers ‘…a fluent, moving story… a tribute to humanity, and a condemnation of the mean-heartedness of the Howard government… beautifully written, powerful and provocative… more wine please…what? No, I haven’t read it…Ahhh. Right, yes, that book…’.

Cautious re-entry into blogville

I had a blog, then I didn't anymore. My broad and extensive readership of 3 people were devasted. The reason was mainly I suddenly got uncomfortable about all this information about me being out there, being a shy and reclusive type. So expect this newlook blog to keep you guessing.
To bring you up to date: I am now in Maimana, a smaller version of Mazar, about 9 hours west, across Dasht e Laili (the Desert of Laili). It is a horrific road. Don't try it. I have seen plenty of bad roads, and this was a baddie. I had two drivers on the journey: Rasoul and Nasim. Nasim drove like a fool, but Rasoul was a madman.
I'm still with the UN here. Keep asking myself how it is that I am still in this country. Must have been really bad in a previous life.