Seeing 2011

After all the breakthroughs achieved by technology (not sure about theology) in 2010, we’re not sure yet what lies ahead. My country, the Philippines, new set of disasters may be waiting somewhere in various forms such as another volcano erupting, super typhoons or earthquake.

St. Paul in his letter to the believers in Corinth reminds us of this uncertainty, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known (1 Cor. 13:12).

In the meantime, those of us who are avowedly bible-based, many times our initial response to life’s uncertainties is actually conjured from our past experiences and theological constructs. Unfortunately this ‘disconnect’ becomes the yardstick to many decisions we have to make in order to understand our raison d’ etre. The following are some of the topics I’d like to continually reflect for the coming new year:

1. The adverse effects of climate change  or global warming – the Philippine government has already declared this: “The Philippines has experienced temperature spikes brought about by climate change. It has been observed that warming is experienced most in the northern and southern regions of the country, while Metro Manila has warmed less than most parts. In addition, the regions that have warmed the most (northern Luzon, Mindanao) have also dried the most. Largest precipitation trends are about 10 percent during the 20th century.”

2. Corruption in the government will be addressed, but not quite. Socio-economic and political structures are so embedded with greed and abuse of power & authority that even if we have faith-based politicians at the helm of leadership will not be sufficient to eradicate corruption in our society.

3. The Role of the Church. Ah, this is not an easy topic.  Remember what Friedrich Nietzsche said, “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss,  the abyss will gaze back into you.” Corruption is not only present in the ‘secular society’ but even more so in both the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches including the nascent yet variegated Pentecostals.

4. Post-modernity and Christian Faith. Absolutes are played down while relativism strikes anew. The Evangelical churches in the Philippines, I think, do not reflect on the causality of global capitalism which to a large extent shapes the contours of social (FB) and economic (WB) networking.  The Philippines in most of Asia remains a favorite playground for various church ministries that are supposedly here to ‘help the poor people of the Philippines.’ My hunch is that some may have good motives but they are often unaware that their methods are so pathetically exploitative and sometime manipulative.

5. The rise of Microterrorism. It is defined by a recent TIME online article by Fareed Zakaria (Dec. 15, 2010), “The Year of Micro-Terrorism” as “fundamentally asymmetrical. It uses the power of being small and hence hard to detect or control. It emanates from countries like Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia; when the U.S. tries to go into these bad lands to fight the enemy, it is hard to find. The U.S. agenda quickly morphs into stabilizing the country and giving it some support – nation building. That is by definition a tough slog in these places, which have been chosen by the bad guys precisely because  they are black holes of order and development. All the terrorist has to do is hide and post letter bombs”

Now this is something that we in the Philippines, particularly the Southern part, experience on a regular basis. The muslim insurgency here dates back to Spanish rule, escalated in the 60s which then led to open revolt in 1972. Kidnapping and Christian church burning have been steady hallmarks of this insurgency which continue to this day.

Fareed concludes that “the problem of microterrorism remains small right now; there are few people dedicated to it and thus few successful attacks. But the democratization of technology, access, information and all those good things is also leading inexorably to the democratization of violence. Welcome to 2011.”

That’s it for now . . . .