Okay I understand that a lot of people are frightened by terrorism (some of you / us even more than you / we outwardly let on). I understand that this fear is not just about life and death, but about the way you /we/they think certain kinds of terrorism represent a direct threat to the way they/ you/ we live.
So lets start there – You’re scared I get it.
But do not let that fear turn into blind hate, if we want to address terrorism, whether by the “Alt Right Nazis”, “Supremacists” “Islamic” or whatever tendencies lets focus on the politics and power behind it …. lets understand what attracts people to these false ideologies and lets seriously address those, rather than letting fear turns us towards hate. Hate leads to more hate, and will never end the cycle of violence.
History and culture are never static, the world moves on – knowledge increases and changes (although sometimes wisdom is lost) and every generation needs to consider past events in the light of current circumstances and knowledge. What may have been “accepted” at one time may rightly be condemned by future generations, Tony Benn once said: “Every generation must fight the same battles again and again. There’s no final victory and there’s no final defeat”.
In the case of slavery for example, it operated a different form and was underpinned by a different set of ideologies and beliefs under Egyptian, Roman (and other Ancient World) models. Later was re-imagined by Europeans from the 16th & 17th Century onwards, when it became underpinned by the racism that still fuels the “White Supremacists” of today. Now no one can deny the economic wealth brought about in Europe and in the USA through slavery, or the part it played within the global industrial revolution. But equally, no one can deny the human misery and oppression caused through it, and the legacy of racism that still flows as a direct result of it. In the USA the abolition of slavery was at the heart of a Civil War that led to the defeat of the Confederacy of eleven states and deaths of thousands of young men (mainly) who died defending a system of wealth creation that still left them impoverished, whilst living in the false consolation that they were “better” than someone whose skin was a darker shade?
Sadly in 2017 we are having to fight the battles over racism and white supremacy yet again – they are being played out in many places every day, from Charlottesville to Grenfell Tower, and right across the globe.
In the end our survival and that of this planet will rest upon our ability to understand that the world is held together in one humanity (Ubuntu) and one creation; the man made (and they are still “man” made) systems that rule us are disposable as we try and find a path that ultimately might save us and the earth from ourselves and our own destructive tendencies. Paul describes just this in his letter to the church in Rome around 55AD in it he says:
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
I’m not a feminist, how can I be, after all I’m a man. In the same way that being a straight, white, male with no disability debars me from speaking “on behalf” of black people about racism, LGBT people about homophobia, people with disabilities about the discrimination experience by them – I cannot speak of womens oppression, or therefore of feminism, from any experience that qualifies me. I have to accept (and do accept) that I am part of the world that oppresses, I even have to accept that there have been times (still are times) when my attitude, my behaviour has been, inadvertently or otherwise, part of that oppression, and even where that is not the case, that I am a direct and indirect beneficiary of that oppression. So I cannot say “this is what a feminist looks like”, I cannot speak “on behalf” of women, but that doesn’t mean I cannot take sides.
In a similar way I’m not an Anglican, I’m a Methodist and as such I’ve been reluctant to get drawn into the current “debate” in Sheffield (and beyond) about the whole issue of the appointment of Rev Philip North as the Anglican Bishop for Sheffield Diocese. But seeing and hearing the sadness and upset this issue has caused for many of my females colleagues in ministry in Sheffield, I felt I needed to say something.
I do not understand the “theological objections” to the ordination of women, I do not understand how “mutual flourishing” operates, but this I know – I have served with, and been ministered to, by many women since becoming a follower of Jesus, some have been ordained, others have not; their gender has made no difference to their faithfulness to Christ, no difference to their abilities, no difference to their grace and love as found in Jesus, no difference to the calling they each have been given. For any powers or system to deny such callings, has (in my opinion) little to do with the Kingdom of God and much more to do with the Empire of Patriarchy.