Sunday, 20 November 2011
According to our beloved head of FIFA, you can get abused for the colour of your skin all game and are then you're meant to shake hands and forget it as if it really doesn't matter. But it does. And we know it does and it isn't good enough to pretend that it doesn't and can just be let go. The public outrage shows our sense of injustice and the desire for judgement - that when something has been done that is fundamentally wrong, it needs to be dealt with properly, not brushed under the carpet.
One charge often made against Christian faith is that the doctrine of divine judgement is exclusive and violent. The idea that God should judge is deemed harsh and unacceptable. Instead, the idea of 'indiscriminate hospitality' is supposed to be more worthy of God, who should accept everyone, with no questions asked. The idea of a God of judgment is a prehistoric remnant of ancient religion. Yet a God who refuses to judge, who refuses to discriminate between good and evil is a God who demands that that the victim of injustice, the abused child, the exploited slave, the beaten wife have to sit down at table in the heavenly banquet with their abusers and attackers. And shake hands as if it is all a bit of healthy banter. Do we really want that? Give me a God who judges, who vindicates the victims and condemns evil any day. I don't want a God like Sepp Blatter.
Friday, 4 November 2011
If you ever wonder whether it is worthwhile praying, and whether it makes any difference, here is a bit of early Christian theology that might help. Tertullian was a Latin-speaking theologian of the C2nd with an ear for a good phrase and a great delight in shocking people. How about this:
Wednesday, 2 November 2011
That’s the strategy St Paul’s took, and it was disastrous. It made the Church of England look like what (let’s be honest) it often is – an old-fashioned, out of touch organisation, worried about its own life and survival, more concerned with petty Health & Safety rules and the loss of £20,000 of daily tourist income than issues of economic justice and poverty, or connecting with issues that matter to people outside the bubble of church life.
So I repent. I repent of my scornful attitude towards the protesters. I repent of not hearing God’s Word through them. Yes they lack cohesion and have a whole of host of contradictory concerns and unfocused grievances, but it seems to me more and more now they didn’t turn up by accident, but that underneath they are expressing something deeply felt by many, many people. Maybe they even were sent by God to show us, the Church of England for what we so often are – out of touch, deaf to real people’s anxieties and passions, insensitive to God’s voice, especially when he speaks to us through a rough rabble of face-painted peaceniks and anarchists. It is good that the Church seems to be beginning to get its act together with the Bishop of London taking a lead, refusing to take legal action against the camp, and setting up an initiative in ethical finance under Ken Costa, but it has been a chastening experience and one which needs a good dose of proper ecclesiastical repentance.