Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Dark times require illuminated minds

THE horrifying and tragic events of the past week or so are grim reminders of the ever present

THE horrifying and tragic events of the past week or so are grim reminders of the ever present dark side of life.

Our thoughts are with the victims of these atrocities and their relatives and friends.

Ancient myths of darkness and evil were trying to come to terms with, explain, the realities of the world around them — our contemporary world is both arrogant and ignorant if we dismiss those stories as pure fiction.

Primitive instincts — of retaliation and retribution — can easily take hold but in so doing we are playing the same game as the “enemy”, which leads to a never-ending cycle of “justified” retaliation.

Two thousand years ago Jesus was teaching, within his war-torn world, that retaliation was not the answer — “love thy neighbour as thyself”.

A phrase like “turning the other cheek” does not mean ignoring what has happened — indeed it requires us to think afresh about how to cope with such situations.

In times past, not so long ago, we were largely ignorant of events worldwide — contemporary media and technology opens wide the door to scenes of horror and violence in all parts of the world.

The pressing question for us, in 2015, is finding new ways of approaching an understanding, tolerance, and resolution of our current days of darkness.

I can well understand how many regard “religion” as a prime cause of hatred and acts of supreme evil — our history bears witness to the apparent truth of that belief. That, though, is to misunderstand what religion is about — it is not about the blind worship of an idol.

In Christianity “God” is not an idol — the word is an attempt to define something which is indefinable, an image of goodness and what might be achieved — the “Kingdom of God”.

In following that we need to face reality, not escape from it, to speak out and at the same time seek understanding.

Terrible deeds have been done in the past in the name of Christianity — terrible deeds are now being done in the name of Islam. Both stem from evil and wilful  misinterpretations.

I have worked among and have friends within the Muslim community — they have nothing to do with Islamic extremism and they are suffering.

There is no quick and easy answer to the present problems of inhuman extremism. Meanwhile, we pray for our brothers and sisters of all faiths and none who suffer in this time of darkness.

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