In the face of such atrocities, what can we do?
by Rev'd Dan Tyndall
A gay night club in Orlando has become the venue for the deadliest mass shooting in recent US history.
In the face of such atrocities we often feel at a loss how to respond. Leaders of nations and faith groups have condemned it as an act of terror and an act of hate. Thousands of individuals who wish to stand in solidarity with the victims and their families have lit candles and attended vigils. The UK Parliament has even held a passionate debate in which it was confirmed that over three dozen MPs are openly gay. Calls have been made for The Rainbow Flag (the symbol of Gay Pride across the world) be flown from official buildings.
But we … here in the south west of England … what can we do?
My concerns around inclusiveness
by Ken Petrie
Until a fortnight before I sat down to write this I was relatively content. I was worshipping at, and fairly heavily involved in, the life of a typically unique Church of England parish. The church was in the Liberal Catholic tradition although I am a theologically-educated Evangelical, but that caused me no concern. My education has necessarily broadened my outlook so I can appreciate the common core of belief Christians share.
The balance between Scripture, Tradition and Reason is credited to Richard Hooker (1554-1600) as being likened to a three-legged stool. This analogy is good in that all three legs are equally necessary for the stool to stand, but has the weakness of implying equal and parallel authority. In reality, these three methods of understanding are not parallel, but serial in their interaction. We perceive through reason, because it is with our minds that we process all the information we receive. We cannot therefore process any idea without it passing through the filter of our reason. In that sense all knowledge is subjective – we know only our minds’ reconstruction of it. Therefore, reason or experience forms the viewpoint from which we assess all evidence.
Look to the Beatitudes for Inclusion, Diversity, Tolerance
by a member of the congregation
In response both to the man who seeks extra reassurance of welcome and to those who question whether inclusion is stretched too far, I would take a long look at the Beatitudes in which Jesus invites us all in a DIVERSITY of states to come to God -whether mourning, merciful, hungry, or poor in spirit etc.; - so focusing on HOW we are (at any particular time) rather than WHO or WHAT we are. The Beatitudes exclude no-one and, in our more honest moments, we know only too well that we are definitely included.
The prayer folder just outside the Lady Chapel shows people in raw need - regulars and visitors alike coming to SMR because they mourn and seek comfort, because they know the burden of being a peacemaker and seek reassurance, because they feel persecuted so seek justice, because often it is only in church that they touch base with their pureness of heart … and so on.
Addressing these needs, people’s HOW, is the remit of the SMR church community. That is its area of expertise. It cannot reverse one’s widowhood, one’s infertility, one’s high IQ, one’s commercial skills, gender, race, sexuality etc. which denote WHO and/or WHAT? The cries and calls in the prayer folder usually render such categorization irrelevant.
by a member of the congregation
As I was grew up, church and God did not feel inclusive. I can remember praying - at age seven - that I would love God for himself and not because I was afraid of going to hell. There seemed to be this great divide between those who were in and those who were out. This was terrifying, although there were more positive aspects to my faith as well.
As a teenager I went to a fundamentalist, charismatic church. This made a very deep impression on me during my teen years which I have battled with ever since. To be a Christian and 'saved' you had to believe in a literal interpretation of the bible, a seven day creation etc. You also had to be baptised in the Holy Spirit, speak in tongues, prophecy and agree with everything the church said. There were many altar calls to give you the chance to repent and be saved.
Again there was this division between those who were in and saved and those who were outside and damned. There was a lot of kindness in the church as well - nothing is straightforwardly black and white.