Saturday, 13 August 2011

How do I love: Anders Behring Breivik, Bashar al-Assad, rioters and homophobes? - Part 1 - Stop trying to 'Win'

These past months have forced us to re-focus on the fact of life that is injustice, abuse and – evil. We has seen challenged governments attacking citizens crying out for fairness and honesty in authority; one mans intolerance and fanaticism leading to the deaths of young people busy in the very process of political engagement; and here in the UK we have seen riots robbing many of property, homes, health, and in one case - life.

I have found myself living again the anger and frustration and pity I feel when confronted with injustice.

Being bullied, struggling to ‘come out’ in a hetero-dominated world (not to mention Church!), caring for a disabled Mum, creating my own injustice and abuse of self – all of these and more have shaped and created in me a strong and passionate response to all and any injustice.

I constantly seek to do all I can to find ways of preventing or moving on from the pain and hopelessness that many face each day.

As a Christian, I am filled with a vast array of stories and metaphor and examples to follow – all calling me to seek reconciliation and to love those that hurt me.

I’m confident that I’m not the only one who struggles – who knows the truth of that call, but finds that my soul simply cannot bring itself to live that life of gratuitous love for all.

As many Christian denominations find themselves polarised when exploring human sexuality and as one who is so affected by this challenge, I am left asking how do I love those – and bear with those who hate me and judge me and cause me anger and pain?

Some thoughts:

Christ as Victim – (reflections on a lecture by James Alison at Trinity Church, Wall St.)

Reconciliation is often seen as second place. First place goes to winning over our opponents’ position.

Jesus faced much injustice and pain with us and lived with that frustration, anger and hurt – yet winning over us was never his first choice. He rather offered us and welcomed us into the spaciousness of God’s love.

Jesus died at the hands of our default position. Even knowing ‘the facts’ of humanities frailty, in Christ’s death we are exposed to Gods love.

Christ does not show us our ‘sin’ from a position of ‘I told you so’, as victor – but as victim. Not to guilt us into change, but to expose us to love.

In terms of the churches struggle over sexuality, particularly the polarisation of left and right, we have to move beyond a stance that seeks ‘a winner’. Both sides argue with compulsion and truth, yet both ignore the humanity and divine nature of the other.

I have always felt that the one thing missing in our conversations (in the UK, Africa and around the world) is any Pastoral awareness.

Leaving the race for a ‘win’ aside may just give us the space to see God in each other, to value each person.

The language of winners and losers is the language of power. It is humanities default position to seek dominance if we have experienced injustice – but ultimately this only means that when/if the ‘losers’ win, then another set of ‘losers’ is created, and the story goes on.

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