I’m not alone in being able to remember exactly where I was when I heard about the twin towers. I was on a GNER train from Edinburgh to London, when a tall American announced it to the carriage. This was before smartphones and facebook, so I assume someone had phoned him, or he had a personal radio. It was one of those moments when you know that the world has changed. That night I, like many others, prayed for those who died, and for those they left behind. Tonight I pray for them again, but also for the other many thousands of civilians killed since in the ‘war on terror’, by the many terrorist bombs in the West and the East and in the ‘collateral damage’ that has gone along with the military campaigns that followed.
Derek Bateman, whose review of the week ( click here ) is always worth listening to, had a very interesting guest on the programme on Saturday 10th – a diplomat called Carne Ross, who was British rep, with a specialism in Iraq and WMD, at the Security Council in 2001 (click for his 2009 Ted Talk or a review of his book Independent Diplomat: Dispatches from an Unaccountable Elite). He spoke surprisingly frankly about the failings of British policy since ‘9/11’ and what he has to say is definitely worth a five minute ‘listen in’ if you have the time – just let me know if you are interested and I’ll send you a file. We always like listening / reading those commentators who reinforce our own views and he certainly caught mine very well. It was right to go into Afghanistan, but then most of the following decisions were horribly wrong. We are the people who vote our politicians in to do these things so to some extent we share in the responsibility, even those of us who said ‘not in my name.’ Did we say it loud enough?
I pray for our destructive species whose revenge instinct is so strong that it overpowers reason and belief, justifying all kinds of atrocities because ‘I have been wronged.’
I attended Mass this evening and the part of the gospel that was read out was about ‘forgiveness’. Jesus told a parable ( click here ) about a servant who was forgiven a massive debt by his master and, once freed, threw another one who owed him a debt into the debtors’ prison, rather than forgiving in his turn. When the master found out what the servant had done, he went back to him and had him tortured. ‘Shouldn’t you also have had mercy on your fellow servant, even as I had mercy on you?,’ he said. The moral Jesus took from this tale was that this is how God, who forgives us our wrongs, will treat people who do not forgive others in their turn. If you want to be inspired by the strength and example of other people, have a look at/download the free e.book by Johann Christoph Arnold Why Forgive?
In that connection the Catholic church and many of its priests have a lot to be forgiven for. It doesn’t come easy to me to do this, particularly when they are so keen to continue to point the finger at others ( click here ). I was so annoyed when I went onto the BBC website for the news and saw this story. This is another one where I have to say LOUD and CLEAR, ‘NOT IN MY NAME.’ I love the important messages that the Church has protected for so many years, such as the one above about forgiveness, but it is very hard not to feel contempt and anger at the pomposity of some #church leaders# who are so lacking in the necessary humility they have been taught to cultivate. Instead of pointing the finger at what they judge to be the misdeeds of others, it would be much more fitting for our church leaders to shut up and wear some sackcloth and ashes on their own account.