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v. Signs and Wonders - Rubbish Day


c.1400, from Anglo-French rubouses related to rubble. The verb sense to criticize first attested 1953 in Australian slang.


My neighbour Bill

after some ancient flirtation

as an altar boy

is an unforgiving, unflinching


Railing against the Pope, the church,

and God

is a constant preoccupation. But Bill

retains a rather quaint

theory of the Atonement;

passionately believes in the constancy

of Friday morning

and the rubbish man who faithfully

collects his confession of a week’s garbage

and leaves him with the forgiveness

of an eternity of empty wheelie bins.

Jeff Guess

*Northern Adelaide Waste Management Authority


Smokey Mountain is a large rubbish dump in Manila, Philippines. Consisting of over two million tonnes of waste, it has operated for more than 40 years and is known for decomposing at such high temperatures that it will catch fire, a fact from which the location derives its name. Indeed, fires at Smokey Mountain have caused many deaths.

Smokey Mountain has a large squatter community, and it is estimated that 30,000 people live near the site, and make their living from picking through the rubbish at Smokey Mountain. In 1993, a joint venture agreement between the National Housing Authority (NHA) and R-II Builders Inc. (RBI) was made to build a low-cost housing project at Smokey Mountain. On 15 August 2007, this agreement was declared valid by the Philippine Supreme Court.

Projects have been enforced by the Government and non-government organizations to allow urban resettlement sites for the slum dwellers. According to a UN-Habitat report, over 20 million people in the Philippines live in slums, and in the city of Manila alone, 50% of the over 11 million inhabitants live in slum areas. Wikipedia

Telling It on a Mountain

by Jane Sutton

Father Benigno Beltran worked with garbage scavengers in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, helping to transform them into a productive Christian community. His ministry has earned many honors, including World Vision's 1997 Robert W. Pierce Award for Christian Service. But Fr. Ben points to obedience: "I would not do otherwise. Jesus would not do otherwise."

When Father Ben Beltran came to Smokey Mountain 20 years ago, he saw a garbage heap almost 100 feet high, reeking of methane gas and polluting the air and water. The dumpsite - ironically named for its resemblance to the Smokey Mountains in the United States - was a blight on the landscape, a political hot potato, a shameful symbol of urban decay. It was also home to a large squatter population. The young Catholic priest resolved, "In a Christian country, there should not be 25,000 people surviving by picking through the garbage." That day, he began to dream of a new Smokey Mountain.

Now, the dream is being realized by Sambayanang Kristiyano, Smokey Mountain's self-sufficient, spiritually-strong community. Under Fr. Ben's tutelage, community members have turned from humiliating scavenging to better jobs, and converted the squatter settlement into something resembling a real neighborhood. The success earned Fr. Ben international attention, funding, and access to Philippine President Fidel Ramos. But to this modest man, none of that equals his long, loving association with Smokey Mountain, where children take his hand and press it to their foreheads in a gesture of honor.

Reading: I Corinthians 4: 10-13

We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment. NIV


Have mercy on me, O God,

according to your unfailing love;

according to your great compassion

blot out my transgressions.

Wash away all my iniquity

and cleanse me from my sin.

Psalm 51

Search me, O God, and know my heart today, Try me, O Savior, know my thoughts, I pray; See if there be some wicked way in me; Cleanse me from every sin, and set me free.

James E. Orr

©Jeff Guess 2017

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