Monthly Archives: August 2021

People use Religion to Justify Violence

 The United Nations designates a day in August as the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief.  The victims of this violence may have been targeted because of their religious beliefs or may have been targeted because of the religious beliefs of the perpetrators of the crime.  The Christchurch Muslims who were massacred at Friday prayers by a white supremacist two years ago were targeted because of their beliefs.  The Muslims jihadists who flew planes into the twin towers in New York City were motivated by their religious beliefs.  In both instances innocent people died.

We recall that the United States of America and its allies invaded Afghanistan to eliminate the terrorist group that perpetrated the attacks against the twin towers and the Pentagon.  Now, twenty years later, the western alliance is hastily withdrawing from Afghanistan,  leaving many Afghanis desperate to leave their own land in order to escape the brutality of the Taliban, whose version of Islam is an aberration of the faith of the majority of Muslim people.  Worse still is ISIS, whose suicide bombings at Kabul airport show them to be even more abhorrent than the Taliban. Continue reading People use Religion to Justify Violence

Contrast: The Kingdoms of this word and the Kingdom of God

2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33

The lectionary gives us snippets of a growing and continuing power struggle within the royal household and within the nation which is not uncommon among feudal monarchies, wealthy families and corporations and indeed democracies although the violence is more subtle or hidden in the contemporary world.  The consequences of David’s lifestyle began to work themselves out and violence erupts among the king’s children, Absalom conspires to kill his brother Amnon because he raped their sister and eventually Absalom is led into open revolt against his father David.  The carnage of the resulting civil war eventually puts Bathsheba’s son nearer to the throne. Continue reading Contrast: The Kingdoms of this word and the Kingdom of God

Bread of life, bread for all

Bread of life; bread for all.

What stories do you have to tell about ‘not having enough food’? I have several memories of events where there wasn’t enough for all present, and I’m sure you do too. There was the time when Durham St Church had a weekend of celebration for the 125th anniversary of the building, and a gala dinner was held on Saturday night. Those were the days when we had a semi-commercial cafeteria in the Aldersgate building, and the catering staff insisted that they were the ones who would do the catering. My friend who taught catering at Polytech was distraught when she got the details about the menu and the orders sent out. Not nearly enough she said, but they knew best – they said. Well there wasn’t enough. When 2/3 of the guests had gone through the buffet there was nothing left on the tables except a few lettuce leaves, and the caterers were frantically out buying icecream so that those who missed out on the first course could be first in the dessert queue. They said afterwards: “We thought that because so many of the guests were elderly, they wouldn’t eat as much as younger people.” Wrong! Continue reading Bread of life, bread for all

What’s in it for me?

2 August 2021

Jesus told the crowd who followed him round the lake: “You’re only hunting me down to see what you can get from me. You ate your fill of the food I provided round on the other shore, and now you’re waiting to see what next.” (Or words to that effect.) These are harsh words from the one we say came into the world to love and serve all whom he met. What’s going on here?

Let me tell you another story. Way back in 1971 I went to Poland to visit my friends Halina and Andreij who lived in Warsaw. On Sunday, Halina and I went to Mass in her local church, and the church was full. A few days later we were in Krakow, and the cathedral was full of people coming and going and lighting candles at the shrines in the side chapels. A party of schoolchildren were throwing red poppies onto the tombstone of the man who was President of Poland between the two world wars. Then in 2001 I went back to see my friends. Halina and I went to Mass on Sunday, and the church was three-quarters empty. Halina said to me: “Now on a fine Sunday, people go for picnics in the forest.” Before the Berlin Wall came down, showing yourself as a Catholic was to make a political statement. After the wall fell it was no longer necessary. You could make choices as to how you spent your free time. The other significant thing that happened for the Polish Church before the falloff the Soviet Union was the appointment of the first Polish Pope. Like Jesus, the Pope drew great crowds of people when he visited Poland. Continue reading What’s in it for me?