Tag Archive: Gandhi


A father had seven children of which two were step-children from his second marriage.

He decided to take them out for a meal and so they went down to the local restaurant. He told his oldest son that he could pick anything off the menu. His son decided to go for a giant steak with a baked potato on the side. He ordered it and they watched him thoroughly enjoy himself wolfing down his meal.

Then the father invited his oldest daughter to do the same and she chose a seafood platter. Again, they all watched as she really enjoyed her food.

This continued down the line until his five children had all eaten. 

Instead of turning to his step-children, the father then turned back to his oldest son and invited him to choose something else off the menu. The son chose a steak kebab this time with a gourmet salad on the side. His daughter went for a three meat pizza. And so it continued down the line.

After the five children had eaten, the father turned to his children and asked them if they wanted dessert. His two step-children were looking a little hungry as well and so he made sure that their water glasses were replenished so that they had something in front of them. He then proceeded to buy ice-cream and cake for his five children. 

crustyAs they were about to leave, one of his step-children asked if they too could get something to eat. Moved by compassion the father asked his daughter if it would be okay with her if the two of them shared the bits of pizza crust she had left behind on her plate? She enthusiastically agreed and so everyone left having eaten something. A great night out.

THE IMMORAL OF THE STORY

I mean that would be fine, right? You would have no problem with that if it was an actual story? We would be able to make statements like ‘Well the five are his real children and the two should be glad that they got something, right?’

Or not? Would we be absolutely disgusted that five of the children got to pig out and two were left with the remains of the meal? Would it not be okay that there was enough money and resources to give everyone a good meal and yet the decision was made to give some people a great meal while some had hardly any meal at all? 

I think if this story was an actual situation where you knew the people, it might be a lot different. The reality of the world where rich and poor live very much like this is a lot easier to turn a blind eye to or even celebrate sometimes, perhaps because the situation of the poor seems so metaphorical [until we actually start to meet them and they become ‘real people’] that it isn’t actually real [as long as we can keep them out of sight, right?]

‘The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.’ [Gandhi]

I can’t do anything personally about sports and movie stars ludicrous salaries. But maybe I can start with my own greed. And that of those who I am in close relationship with. Through conversation [it’s not guilt that is going to win this battle, but imaginative creativity might get us places] and wrestling over these things. Mutual accountability. Goal setting and experimentation. Living better.

For people in America in particular, one way of starting to align yourselves to something better might be joining a Common Change group and, together with a group of friends, start meeting some of the needs in the lives of the people you know.

For others of us it might be taking on board the stories of people around us who are doing inspirational and creative things like the Albrecht family in the UK, or Nigel and Trish and their family in Hillbrow, South Africa and asking how that might look for us in our context. For parents of young children, it might be reading some of these stories and seeing if there is anything in there we might be able to take on or whether they inspire us to figure out how our story might look.

It might require us taking a moment to stop and do a stock take of our lives and ask if we are currently living out the values that we profess to have or should we be taking a leaf out of Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson’s book and simply walking away from the place we currently find ourselves to have landed and being more intentional about choosing the place where we decide to set up camp.

Maybe a small part of not feeling overwhelmed by what is happening in Syria right now could be by being intentional about the things I have the ability to change in my life and context right now?

I mean it’s just step-kids right? They’re not even his real children… 

so one of my favourite funny people in life is a guy called Jack Handey who used to write one liners that were used on SNL such as:

‘I remember how, in college, I got that part-time job as a circus clown, and how the children would laugh and laugh at me. I vowed, then and there, that I would get revenge.’ [Jack Handey]

or:

‘Any man, in the right situation, is capable of murder. But not any man is capable of being a good camper. So, murder and camping are not as similar as you might think.’ [Jack Handey]

and:

‘I remember when I was in the army, we had the toughest drill sergeant in the world. He’d get right up next to your face and yell, and if you didn’t have the right answers, mister, you’d be peeling potatoes or changing the latrine. Hey, wait. I wasn’t in the army. Then who WAS that guy?!’ [Jack Handey]

some random, some funny, some randomly funny, some just clever and i really dig most of them. So much so that i decided that it is time for me to reach deep within my misdirected randomised humour machine and see if there is anything lurking there that might make people smile or chuckle quietly to themself and hopefully even one day create a legitimate laughing out loud experience [milk or coke out the nose and i’ve reached the top!]

so i’ve started writing some brett [my first name] andy’s [shortened form of my last name, to avoid being sued] and i’m keen to have some feedback… please read thru the list of what i’ve got so far and if you hate them all that’s fine, but if there was one that, for you, contained the most humour and even possibly brought about the aforementioned smile or even chuckle, then please respond to the note with which one it was. So, basically, if any of these is funny, what would be your number one? [half of them are pretty horrible, but it’s early days – actually might be good to hear your best and your worst]

“They say ‘Too many cooks spoil the broth.’ I say, if broth is all you’re looking forward to, you’re pretty much in a heap of trouble already.” [brett andy]

“The art of hay-making must be quite a specified & delicate undertaking hence the urging to do it while sunlight prevails.” [brett andy]

Chuck Norris’ Texas Ranger drove a 1995 Dodge Ram for most of the series, why was he still called Walker? [brett andy]

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Give a man a vegetarian and a fish and he won’t even be allowed to eat the fish.” [brett andy]

“I’ve never been a huge fan of water polo. I think it’s the cruelty to the horses that gets to me.” [brett andy]

‘Gandhi once said “an eye for an eye only ends up leaving the whole world blind,” but surely if it was only one eye each it would be more a case of extremely bad global depth perception?’ [brett andy]

“I don’t understand why they call them miners when most of them are over 18. Probly cos they can’t drink while underground.” [brett andy]

Why is it called an avocado pear if you only ever have one of them at a time? [brett andy]

Do you think there are many funny those-formerly-known-as-“bushmen” people? I keep hearing lots about these comic sans… [brett andy]

“If you ever want to show-off to your long-term girlfriend a new shoelace-tying technique you’ve invented, i don’t think the best way to introduce it is by saying, “Hey I’ve got something to show you” and then going down on one knee.” [brett andy]

“I’ll bet rock, paper, scissors was a lot less fun before scissors were invented. And paper.”
[brett andy]

“Last nite i dreamt i ate a giant marshmallow and when i woke up my pillow was on the floor next to my bed. It probly got knocked off during the night i imagine.” [brett andy]

“I once read in a biology textbook that if you take your intestines and lay them across four tennis courts, you will die.” [brett andy]

and lastly a bonus one by my friend MJ affectionately known as a MJAndey [because his last name is Phillip] – ‘When life hands you lemons pretend they’re guavas and say ‘these guavas look a bit yellow. I’m going to leave them out to ripen’. Then put them on a table and slowly walk away.’

[to be mysteriously taken directly to the next page of brett andy’s simply click here]

just watching the rob bell furore that has swept up has once again brought something to the fore which i think needs comment and some thort by people who claim to be Jesus-followers…

one of the accusations that has been made against rob bell is that he is a universalist which as i understand it is someone who believes that everyone is going to end up in heaven, and by definition no one ends up in hell.

i don’t know if rob bell is a universalist. people have seemed to infer that from the questions he asks in the promo video for his latest book: ‘Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived.’ But according to the one article i read, it says, “after all, on page 72 he actually states, “Do I believe in a literal hell? Of course.” [really good article response to the rob bell stuff here]

but that is not my concern. if he believes that then i definitely would take a stand against the belief because i think the Bible is largely clear on that matter and a lot of Jesus’ teaching and parables seem to deal with who will make it and who won’t.

what concerns me is how amped so many christians seem to be to point people towards hell. my friend Ant Martin mentioned to me how many people have responded to the Rob Bell video by making statements like “reality check, Ghandi’s in hell..” i mean, firstly spell his name right, it’s Gandhi… the question Rob Bell asks in his video is, “Gandhi’s in hell? Really? You know that for sure?” and people divebombed him…

as far as i understand it, it is through faith in Jesus Christ that we receive forgiveness of our sins and are made righteous to be able to live eternally with God (which does begin now) – the thief on the cross next to Jesus receives salvation even though he has done nothing in his life to deserve it, but he acknowledges who Jesus is and Jesus welcomes him to paradise. i don’t know if Gandhi turned to Jesus for forgiveness. But i don’t know that he didn’t. What i do know is that Gandhi loved Jesus and wasn’t so fond of His followers who didn’t seem to display the same kind of life that Jesus spoke about and lived. But i don’t know the state of Gandhi’s heart at the time of his death and whether or not he was in relationship with God and so for people to say he is definitely in hell seems like a foolish, immature, arrogant and presumptuous statement to make [unless you have some evidence i don’t]

and as i said it concerns me greatly that people claiming to be Christ followers are almost excited to point out that someone is going to hell – whether it’s Gandhi or homosexuals or abortion clinic owners or Saddam Hussein or Hitler, it doesn’t matter – hell is a place that was designed for the devil and his angels [Matthew 25.41] and it is always a complete tragedy when any person ends up there.

if it is true that Gandhi is headed towards hell, that should break us.

what is the greatest commandment? to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul and strength and to love your neighbour as yourself. Gandhi is my neighbour [Luke 10.25-37] and my attitude to him has to be one of love. and to anyone else, no matter who they are or what they have done.

maybe if we, as Jesus followers, had a better response to people heading towards hell, we would live differently while they are alive, and in our space, and living next door to us, and help direct them towards a Jesus-filled eternity which starts right now – a life that is symbolised by the fruit of the spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control) and by loving God and loving people and looking after those in need.

and be absolutely shattered every single time someone dies without coming into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.

[and spending less time involved in random online judgemental railings against what someone might be saying in some book we haven’t and probably aren’t going to read because of what we thort they might have said in their promotional video and book blurb]

do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good

i really struggle to ‘get’ how people have such issues with Jesus-following when the basics of what it is all about is gems like that – love God, love people, look after orphans and widows, forgive those who wrong you, look after the land you’ve been given, share this love message…

i do sadly understand how people can have issues with christians and a lot of the things they have done in the name of religion or Jesus or the church, but the message itself – reminds me of the statement kleinfrans made – the God i believe in is not the God you don’t believe in – if more people just read the bible and understood the basics of Jesus-following instead of reading christians it might be a completely different story

but i love that verse – it comes from romans 12.21 and was one of the verses that was really meaningful to me when i was doing my dts (discipleship training school) in holland and then outreach in malawi in 2000 – we reduced it to a 1221 code between three of us in the team so that if someone was being dumb or christian (as opposed to Christ-following, oh that there wasn’t a difference!) one of us would mention it or subtly write it into the ground with a stick and the other person would see it and be reminded – fight evil by gooding it to death

i love the concept, but it is one of my biggest struggles to live out consistently – my inherent sense of ‘justice’ (and it’s a warped sinful idea of justice that is fed heavily by pride) makes me want to return evil for evil – tit for tat, eye for eye, tooth for tooth

but as gandhi said ‘an eye for an eye only leaves the whole world blind’ and it’s true – revenge feeds revenge – there is no natural end to it – and so when someone pushes into the line of traffic i’ve been sitting in for twenty minutes, or a unicorn player hacks one of my friends in a hockey match, or or or… my response needs to be good

then, in the same passage, just for me i think, paul sets it out like this, ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ (12.20)

i have often offered to skip the first two steps and go directly to pouring the burning coals on the person’s head, but God has never taken me up on it – it was Jesus’ revolutionary love that disarmed people – when most of us would be shouting curses as the crowd nailed us literally or metaphorically to the cross, Jesus responds with ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’

this is powerful, powerful stuff. i firmly believe that if Christ-followers in south africa could really start living the 1221 we could transform this country cos it would catch on. i also firmly believe that if all christians in South Africa could become Christ-followers… south africa would be unrecognisable in months!

how about it? pick it up for just this week for starters and see how it goes – Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good!

i attended a funeral last nite for one of my ex youth guys (well a pre-funeral actually as the funeral is on saturday but this was called a ‘roer diens?’ or something and was an opportunity to celebrate his life and give testimony) who was stabbed to death on the weekend

tbV and i were two of about 4 white people in a hall filled with coloured people fromJamestown where he lived and where it happened – i had not really known him that well but what stood out to me was that he was a really good natured young dude with great manners and a consistent (with a hint of mischief) smile and positive attitude – but when his mom got up and spoke it almost floored me

she basically got up and said how Adrian is safe now and he is with God and so there is no need for revenge and then basically begged his friends and guys from the community to not add to the bloodshed and tragedy that has already happened

i would imagine when your precious child is taken away from you that the natural response would be that someone must pay and that the guy responsible must suffer –  his mom is a follower of Jesus though and i know that is what prompted that kind of response

i hear the voice of Jesus, hanging bloodied and beaten from the cross, designated Roman instrument of torture and slow death, gasping out, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do’ and just pray that more of us will really ‘get’ that heart and live it for real in a broken and hurting world.

as Gandhi said, ‘an eye for an eye ends up leaving the whole world blind’

this is an article/letter by one of my modern day heroes – a guy called shane claiborne who wrote one of my top three books ‘The Irresistible Revolution’ which was basically a search for any Christians who actually believed and lived out the stuff of the Bible – highly recommended if you have not read it yet – and who i got to hang out with for a bit at a surfers conference two years ago and interview – someone sent me a link to this note and i don’t have the link but i don’t think shane would mind…

What If Jesus Meant All That Stuff?

This radical Christian’s ministry for the poor, The Simple Way, has gotten him in some trouble with his fellow Evangelicals. We asked him to address those who don’t believe.

By Shane Claiborne

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To all my nonbelieving, sort-of-believing, and used-to-be-believing friends: I feel like I should begin with a confession. I am sorry that so often the biggest obstacle to God has been Christians. Christians who have had so much to say with our mouths and so little to show with our lives. I am sorry that so often we have forgotten the Christ of our Christianity.

Forgive us. Forgive us for the embarrassing things we have done in the name of God.

The other night I headed into downtown Philly for a stroll with some friends from out of town. We walked down to Penn’s Landing along the river, where there are street performers, artists, musicians. We passed a great magician who did some pretty sweet tricks like pour change out of his iPhone, and then there was a preacher. He wasn’t quite as captivating as the magician. He stood on a box, yelling into a microphone, and beside him was a coffin with a fake dead body inside. He talked about how we are all going to die and go to hell if we don’t know Jesus.

Some folks snickered. Some told him to shut the hell up. A couple of teenagers tried to steal the dead body in the coffin. All I could do was think to myself, I want to jump up on a box beside him and yell at the top of my lungs, “God is not a monster.” Maybe next time I will.

The more I have read the Bible and studied the life of Jesus, the more I have become convinced that Christianity spreads best not through force but through fascination. But over the past few decades our Christianity, at least here in the United States, has become less and less fascinating. We have given the atheists less and less to disbelieve. And the sort of Christianity many of us have seen on TV and heard on the radio looks less and less like Jesus.

At one point Gandhi was asked if he was a Christian, and he said, essentially, “I sure love Jesus, but the Christians seem so unlike their Christ.” A recent study showed that the top three perceptions of Christians in the U. S. among young non-Christians are that Christians are 1) antigay, 2) judgmental, and 3) hypocritical. So what we have here is a bit of an image crisis, and much of that reputation is well deserved. That’s the ugly stuff. And that’s why I begin by saying that I’m sorry.

Now for the good news.

I want to invite you to consider that maybe the televangelists and street preachers are wrong — and that God really is love. Maybe the fruits of the Spirit really are beautiful things like peace, patience, kindness, joy, love, goodness, and not the ugly things that have come to characterize religion, or politics, for that matter. (If there is anything I have learned from liberals and conservatives, it’s that you can have great answers and still be mean… and that just as important as being right is being nice.)

The Bible that I read says that God did not send Jesus to condemn the world but to save it… it was because “God so loved the world.” That is the God I know, and I long for others to know. I did not choose to devote my life to Jesus because I was scared to death of hell or because I wanted crowns in heaven… but because he is good. For those of you who are on a sincere spiritual journey, I hope that you do not reject Christ because of Christians. We have always been a messed-up bunch, and somehow God has survived the embarrassing things we do in His name. At the core of our “Gospel” is the message that Jesus came “not [for] the healthy… but the sick.” And if you choose Jesus, may it not be simply because of a fear of hell or hope for mansions in heaven.

Don’t get me wrong, I still believe in the afterlife, but too often all the church has done is promise the world that there is life after death and use it as a ticket to ignore the hells around us. I am convinced that the Christian Gospel has as much to do with this life as the next, and that the message of that Gospel is not just about going up when we die but about bringing God’s Kingdom down. It was Jesus who taught us to pray that God’s will be done “on earth as it is in heaven.” On earth.

One of Jesus’ most scandalous stories is the story of the Good Samaritan. As sentimental as we may have made it, the original story was about a man who gets beat up and left on the side of the road. A priest passes by. A Levite, the quintessential religious guy, also passes by on the other side (perhaps late for a meeting at church). And then comes the Samaritan… you can almost imagine a snicker in the Jewish crowd. Jews did not talk to Samaritans, or even walk through Samaria. But the Samaritan stops and takes care of the guy in the ditch and is lifted up as the hero of the story. I’m sure some of the listeners were ticked. According to the religious elite, Samaritans did not keep the right rules, and they did not have sound doctrine… but Jesus shows that true faith has to work itself out in a way that is Good News to the most bruised and broken person lying in the ditch.

It is so simple, but the pious forget this lesson constantly. God may indeed be evident in a priest, but God is just as likely to be at work through a Samaritan or a prostitute. In fact the Scripture is brimful of God using folks like a lying prostitute named Rahab, an adulterous king named David… at one point God even speaks to a guy named Balaam through his donkey. Some say God spoke to Balaam through his ass and has been speaking through asses ever since. So if God should choose to use us, then we should be grateful but not think too highly of ourselves. And if upon meeting someone we think God could never use, we should think again.

After all, Jesus says to the religious elite who looked down on everybody else: “The tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom ahead of you.” And we wonder what got him killed?

I have a friend in the UK who talks about “dirty theology” — that we have a God who is always using dirt to bring life and healing and redemption, a God who shows up in the most unlikely and scandalous ways. After all, the whole story begins with God reaching down from heaven, picking up some dirt, and breathing life into it. At one point, Jesus takes some mud, spits in it, and wipes it on a blind man’s eyes to heal him. (The priests and producers of anointing oil were not happy that day.)

In fact, the entire story of Jesus is about a God who did not just want to stay “out there” but who moves into the neighborhood, a neighborhood where folks said, “Nothing good could come.” It is this Jesus who was accused of being a glutton and drunkard and rabble-rouser for hanging out with all of society’s rejects, and who died on the imperial cross of Rome reserved for bandits and failed messiahs. This is why the triumph over the cross was a triumph over everything ugly we do to ourselves and to others. It is the final promise that love wins.

It is this Jesus who was born in a stank manger in the middle of a genocide. That is the God that we are just as likely to find in the streets as in the sanctuary, who can redeem revolutionaries and tax collectors, the oppressed and the oppressors… a God who is saving some of us from the ghettos of poverty, and some of us from the ghettos of wealth.

In closing, to those who have closed the door on religion — I was recently asked by a non-Christian friend if I thought he was going to hell. I said, “I hope not. It will be hard to enjoy heaven without you.” If those of us who believe in God do not believe God’s grace is big enough to save the whole world… well, we should at least pray that it is.

Your brother,

Shane

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