02 January 2010

doing some arithmetic

Every once in a while, to my personal surprise, Dr. Williams says something I find inciteful, stimulating or with which I agree. When he does all three, I think it worth noting here. This video is his New Years message. Go ahead, view it, right now. We will talk below after you do that.

OK, now did you catch the number? He said, "each year nine million children die before reaching their fifth birthday." So I did the math. There are 354 days in a year. That represents 8,496 hours which represents 509760 minutes. Which means with a bit of simple division that seventeen children (17!) die every minute.

Let us be clear, children do not stop dieing because the have a fifth birthday! It is likely that the reason the archbishop chose that age was the stark count of nine million. It is also likely that this is an under count. Infanticide in countries like China where daughters are not valued and other realities of poverty suggest that the number could be higher.

But go back to that number: 17 a minute. That is about 170 in the time it takes for the average Episcopalian sermon.

These kids do not have to die. Malaria, starvation and bad water all can be dealt with. We know how to improve agriculture, clean water and fight malaria. This is a matter of will - not capacity.

The archbishop commends the Millennium Development Goals adopted by the UN at the end of the 1990's. I am not an expert so I cannot tell you efficient the goals may be. It does appear to me that they are the most effective ideas on offer.

TEC is committed to the goals. Confronted by the combination of economic issues and polity litigation, the leadership deleted the budget line item for our contribution from the current budget. General Convention put it back. So to the extent we fund our church's activity we do indeed seek to fund the goals.

There are those who find that commitment wrong. "Saving souls," evangelism and Anglican orthodoxy" (perhaps the perfect oxymoron!) are more urgent in their eyes. They are wrong. You cannot convert the starving until you feed them, you cannot save the soul of a dead child. Jesus's vision of the final judgement did not call us to account for our 'orthodoxy' but for our acts of charity and revolutionary kindness. The Gospel is about doing something - now!

So as we begin a new decade and leave what Mad Priest has dubbed "the decade that intelligent forgot" it is time to ask: when you were hungry did we feed you, when you were sick did we comfort you, when you were in prison did we visit you? Mayhap the MDG approach is suboptimal OK what are you doing in other ways?

FWIW
jimB

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is this Mad Priest West.

I see MP is circling the wagons. No one allowed except MP drones.

Jim said...
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Jim said...
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Jim said...

Ever have one of those days? Posting this note has made this one. Let me try again.

I have allowed the first trolling post through to show the reader something. There is a reason we blog owners use moderation and other techniques to limit comments.

I have my 3 simple rules. They do not exclude comments that disagree with my, in fact I welcome such. They do however exclude generally, this sort of thing. I also kill about a dozen attempts to insert ads for what I suspect is pirated software, and at least one a day written in a Chinese or Japanese script. In the later case my rule is if I cannot read it I wont publish it.

I believe in the marketplace of ideas. Any marketplace has its rules and mine are only 3. One should think that would not be hard. None-the-less this is why I have moderation turned on -- some folks do not get it.

FWIW
jimB

Fran said...

I found this a thought provoking post and it gives one much to consider in prayer.

I am thinking about how God came to be human in Jesus, as a child.

There is so much that we can do that is yet undone. How do we get out of our own way?

Jim said...

Fran,

I think it is a good question. The best answer I can offer is a quote from that great philosopher, Yoda. "Think not! DO!" If each of us individually does something, then the world will change.

FWIW
jimB

Jim said...

From anon via email:

"I too am somewhat taken aback by some of the leadership His Grace has shown. I do NOT know the pressures and such which may be there. Personally, I think that the idea of a Covenant is repugnant to the very ethos of Anglicanism, as apparently does + Gene R. "

I am the conduit here -- passing on the thought.

FWIW
jimB

Christal said...

Five million children breaks my heart. At night I see commercials for organizations that support these children in various countries.
Why can't they all be saved?

Jim said...

Lots of reasons why. The list of problems is endless but the top few can be categorized as politics, bad science, greed and corruption.

Systemic poverty requires systematic efforts. We do not do that. In a real sense that makes indifference the major issue.

FWIW
jimB

Anonymous said...

What about providing safe and effective birth control?

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