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Have you objected against the latest outrage in the Church?  Have you written to the Church Times to complain?  Have you decried our society as faithless and godforsaken?  Have you wondered as your Parish Church or small group has become a haven for the worst kind of liberal or the most vehement kind of conservative?  Have you protested against all that you know is wrong?  Have you?

It is now possible to stay in contact with many people over the other side of the world without moving from behind a computer screen.  The CC television cameras record our every move down the street.  People with video cameras or camera phones capture images of us when we do not expect to be being watched.  We can drive or fly in a matter of hours from one destination to the next.  We have all of the latest technology, which we attempt to offer up to God, but how is our consumption to be shaped?  We are tempted to consume all of the time, perhaps driven to have the latest fashion in clothing or  television or DVDs or books.  Can we consume religion too?  Do we indeed have “a t-shirt that says what we believe, letters on a bracelet to serve as our ID, the necklace and the key-chain, and everything a good Christian needs”?  Are we tempted to leave our local church and join another, much better suited to God’s plan for evangelism or women or gay people or preaching or growth or unity.  If we do not consume tangible goods, do we consume ideas?  Must we always have the latest?  Do we compete to be the most orthodox, the most conservative, the most inclusive?  Do we consider that we all know the Church’s will for everybody?  Will we dry up if we don’t keep up with the world?  Will we still be “relevant” if we don’t include young people?  Will we still be “godly” if we include practicing gay people?  Will we be sexist if we exclude women’s orders?  Will we be conforming ourselves to the worst excesses of the liberal democracy if we don’t?  Will our alternative worship cease to be alternative?  Has our prayer book really ceased to meet needs?  What on earth are our “needs” anyway?  What now?  What will we do with the people with whom we disagree because they’re so blatantly sin-filled that they cannot see that we’re right?

Is anybody else tired of all of this?  We need to seek to work with one another in such a way that our disagreement with others does not mean that we act violently towards them.  We must remember that “the majority” of churches across the world did not condemn Nazism.  It was left to a tiny minority of the Confessing Church.  And once again, can you hear the rhetoric? 

“We are the tiny orthodox minority left.” 

“We’re the ones defending the oppressed, while others seek to condemn.” 

“No, we’re the ones defending the truth, while others give up the faith.” 

“We’re the most officially “Catholic”. 

“We’re listening to the Pope and Cardinal Ratzinger.” 

“We’re listening to Rowan Williams.”

“Well, darn it, cos we’re listening to Jesus.” 

“And us, well, we’re listening to the Mother of God!”

“And we’re not listening to them...”

It goes on:

“We’re the most officially “Evangelical”.  We can sign all these bits of paper to demonstrate it.” 

“We’re listening to the Bible.” 

“We’re listening to Archbishop Akinola.”

“We’re the mainstream.”

“We’re right.”

”We defend the family and the innocent and the oppressed and everyone who needs defending.  We’ll fight for our right to democracy.”

“We’ll fight for Christianity.”

Enough.  Isn’t it enough? 

Does anybody else think that if anything is worth saying, and if it is worth hearing, might it be possible that it will only be discerned over a long period of years?  Do we trust God to strike down our oppressors or must we seek to do violence ourselves?  Are we brave enough to live peacefully in the Kingdom that was promised to us, or must we take it by force?  Do we love our enemies?  How did Jesus demonstrate his love for his enemies?  How do we learn to live so that people will follow Jesus through our example?  How do we seek to speak, to pray, to listen to those with whom we most strongly disagree?  How do we live in a way in which peace is genuinely practiced?  Do we trust that things will turn out alright, even if we don’t offer any more press releases or statements or declarations or treaties?  Can’t we wait?  What’s the hurry?  Does God not have a handle on this situation?  Who is Lord?  Is it us or is it God?  Who is really in control?  Are we required to have it sorted out or is incarnation supposed to entail messiness?

The technology that has enabled us to stay in contact with our friends abroad has now meant that we are better aware of what our opponents and enemies are doing.  We can set up more websites, more journals, more forums, more discussion groups, for people like us, to watch people like them.  Enough.  Isn’t it enough? 

Might not our endless hunger and endless consumption drive us to the Eucharist?  Might it drive us to prayer, to fasting, to vigils, for those that we hate the most?  Might it drive us to confess the sin of hatred of our brethren?  Might our vehemence be tempered by making friends with those with whom we disagree? Is it too late for bridge-building?  Are we sacrificing one another, and one another’s children to the sword, because of our right to live in peace?  Are we withdrawing from society because it has become too dirty, too dangerous for people like our children?  What about Jesus?  Where will we meet him, if not in dirty dangerous people?  And how will we know that we met Him if we do not listen for the still small voice that does not do “service on demand” or instant gratification?  How will we know?

Might it be possible that we be granted the gift of patience?

Apologies if you don't want comments here - feel even freer than normal to remove.
I award this page the mark of GoodBunkum?.  I don't understand a word of it, I disagree with its basic premises and some of its conclusions.  But I love the way it sounds and find myself agreeing with it as a piece of writing.  And of course, that very matter of influence means that it is partially disproving itself ;)  --Vitenka

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