I had such a great time in Darwin. Couldn't have been better. I met so many fantastic people and the conference Educating for Tough Times was inspiring. I have never seen so many palm trees in a city and it was wonderful to see some big crocs in their natural habitat. More than 1,000 people from all over the world attended and the conference was very well-organised and enjoyable. Congratulations Australia! We may have the ashes for a few months but you have the prophetic voice.
Thinking Faith blogs
Next week I am off to Darwin in Australia where I will be delivering an academic paper on storytelling and a popular presentation entitled James Bond, Rat worship and Postmodernism: Subversive Questions for Christian Educators.
The conference is called Educating for Tough Times. There will be more than 1000 people attending.
Here is my take on how Bond would answer the five big faith questions. Bond is a great way to get young people thinking about faith.
A BBC Panorama investigation, broadcast this week, found evidence that staff were bullying and assaulting residents daily. Four staff from the hospital have been arrested and 13 have been suspended.
Terry Bryan, a former nurse at the hospital for people with learning difficulties, said that both the care home's management and the Care Quality Commission, the regulator, had failed to act on his "grave" concerns about the behaviour of staff.
This is another cracker of a story. It comes from the Neema Crafts project.
Hezron's Story: Weaving
Hezron was a proud and healthy young man in his mid twenties with everything to live for – a lovely wife, two beautiful children and another on the way at any moment, when the minibus taxi he was travelling in hit an oncoming car. All thirty people who were crammed into the vehicle died, except for Hezron and a new born baby, who had to be pulled from the bodies amongst the wreckage.
Neema Crafts was started in October 2003 by the Diocese of Ruaha. Its purpose is to provide handicrafts training and employment for deaf and physically disabled people in Iringa region, Tanzania, and also to change negative attitudes towards people with disabilities in the local community. Local employers are invited to see how skilled the workers at Neema Crafts quickly become when given the opportunity to fulfill their potential. The high quality of their work is changing the attitude of local people towards disabled people.
Imagine this scene from a recent courtroom trial in South Africa: A frail black woman stands slowly to her feet. She is about 70 years of age. Facing her from across the room are several white police officers, one of whom, Mr. van der Broek, has just been tried and found implicated in the murders of both the woman's son and her husband some years before.
In the newspapers there have been harrowing accounts of human sacrifice. A five year old Nigerian boy was smuggled into Britain and murdered in a voodoo-style 'muti' ritual killing. He was drugged with a 'black-magic' potion and sacrificed before being thrown into the Thames, where his torso washed up next to the Globe Theatre in September 2001.
Hanneke van Dam is a Dutch missionary to Mongolia who works with the German organisation HELP International. She reports in a recent newsletter: