Martin Marty writes about the tragedy in Paris. And, like always he is worth reading.
I have just received the English translation of a poem, from a dear friend who has a special heart for Vietnam. The author, Le Thi Cong Nhan, who is 30 years old, is an uncompromising activist and Christian lawyer. She was imprisoned in Vietnam from 2007 to 2010 for trying to help an independent labor union to organize. As ir is obvious from this text, she did not lose her spirit!
You may find HERE my previous post on her release from prison.
Her poem reflects the same longing for freedom, that many of us had, while living under communist oppression. At the same time, it expresses the same naive hope that when freedom comes everything will be different, kind of like overnight.
We all know now, here in the post-communist world, that such a hope is unrealistic and may lend us to much disappointment when faced with the grim reality of the ambiguous nature of freedom.
We know now (but had no idea at the time, although we should have known better) that we may need to spend the proverbial ’40 years in the desert’, before any hope of normality becomes reality). Yet, when under pressure, one can only hope the best for the future.
Here is the poem. May it help you remember, and pray for those who are not yet free. May God have mercy on Vietnam! Continue reading “Le Thi Cong Nhan – I Have A Dream – Poem of A Vietnamese Dissident”
Communism is basically a quasi-religious ideology. This is why it is violently opposed to Christianity and to all other religious systems.
Since God allowed us to live under such an oppressive political system, we have to accept it as part of God’s providence to us and strive to extract as much spiritual gain as possible from this traumatic experience. Continue reading “From Bondage to the Desert – Final Conclusions”
Any given thing is as valuable as the price we are prepared to pay for it. If we really want to enjoy freedom, we have to be ready to pay the price that it demands. Here are some of the possible ‘prices’ we may need to pay.
5.1 Slower Pace of Growth
From a biblical perspective, faithfulness, not pragmatic effectiveness, is the test of our faith. This may sound strange in our pragmatic times, when we tend to consider that if something ‘works’ it must be right. The Bible tells us that Abraham believed God and he was counted as righteous on the basis of that faith (Gen. 15:6): nothing pragmatic about this story; it was all about faithfulness. Continue reading “40 Years in the Desert – 5. The Price of Freedom 1”
4.4 Money Talks
One other extremely serious risk that confronts Christians who have been freed from communist oppression is that of letting themselves be controlled by the power of money. The main reason for this is that Christians often hold a dualistic worldview in which prayer is ‘spiritual’ while money is just ‘a worldly matter’. Thus they never learn how to handle money properly or to use it as a way to worship God. Continue reading “40 Years in the Desert – 4. The Dangers of Freedom 4”
4.3 Devaluation of Freedom
People who have lived without freedom for a long time have no way of appreciating its true value. This is why, when they are confronted with the need to pay a high price for it, they tend to look back and fall into nostalgia for an idealised image of the ‘good old days’. Continue reading “40 Years in the Desert – 4. The Dangers of Freedom 3”
4.2 Freedom Without Responsibility?
People who are spiritually and socially immature imagine that freedom means that they have all the rights in the world and no responsibilities whatsoever. However, this is childish and ridiculous. Nevertheless, many people in post-communist societies, particularly younger people, think like this. Continue reading “40 Years in the Desert – 4. The Dangers of Freedom 2”