Sound and Vision

[Originally published in the Vanuatu Daily Post’s Weekender Edition.]

On no less than three occasions in the last couple of months, we’ve seen complaints in the media over the activities of some Christian groups. In every case the problem was ostensibly noise. And in every case, we’re left with the distinct impression that, while volume might be a problem, people objected to the content, too.

Now, I would be amazed if there were more than a handful of individuals in the entire country who actively object to the basic lessons of the New Testament. Love thy neighbour and live peaceably with him; turn the other cheek when struck; forgive others for their actions – these values and others underlie virtually everything we as a society hold dear.

So why, then, do some begin to feel uncomfortable when others celebrate these lessons joyfully, loudly and at length?

Continue reading

Strange Bedfellows

[Originally published in the Vanuatu Daily Post‘s Weekender Edition.]

Modern Vanuatu society expresses its values three ways: through kastom, the law and the church. If we reflect honestly on each of them, we have to admit that not one is ideally implemented. Nonetheless, each is inextricably woven into our identity, and thus bound to the other two.

It’s sometimes tempting to think about the tension between each of these influences in exclusive terms, to assume that certain things belong in one domain and therefore not in another. When the chief, the policeman and the pastor don their respective robes of office, we think we see a clear distinction.

But as with all things, the differences are far clearer in the abstract than in real life.

Continue reading