Sunday, 8 March 2009

"Our civilisation in crisis" - a matter for reflection

As previewed 10 days ago, Frank Regan visited Cheltenham yesterday to lead a Day of reflection under the auspices of Cheltenham Christian Ecology Link. The chapel at St Edward's Junior School was pleasingly full for two stimulating talks, the oldest attendee being 93, the youngest 16 months.

What follows is not a synopsis of what Frank said, rather a series of some thoughts he gave us, some questions he raised, some comments he elicited.

All the world's peoples want peace - which for believers is the experience of living in the fullness of God's blessing. Why are we therefore, since 9/11, in a situation of permanent war?

Adapting Archbishop Romero, you and I are prophets of a future not our own; priests of a creation not our own, and builders of a humanity not our own.

The lens through which I look upon the world is my faith vision. How does my faith impact upon those for whom I am responsible?

"I have come that you may have life, and life to the full." (John 10, 10) We are in Christ - the body of Christ, given for the life of the world.

"You are the body of Christ. Receive what you are; become what you receive." (St Augustine) In the light of this, how can we relate to other peoples in the manner of war?

Creation is good; and it is beautiful (a particularly Greek insight), clean (a Roman), harmonious (a Slav), rainbow-coloured (a Japanese). Why have we - especially in the last 250 years - ceased to care adequately for it, our planet?

The gathering in, the symbol of the state we're in is Peak Oil. Our oil-driven civilsation is coming to an end. So, why are we still being urged to consider ourselves duty-bound to consume ourselves out of Depression?

Prostitution and body-parts trafficing; extraordinary rendition and Guantanamo - they take place in our name. We are all involved. How do we relate?

These are the questions our churches should be asking. Instead, they give only answers; and sometimes their teaching has not been given reception. An implosion is needed. Meanwhile, we can be the change.

"Civilisation in crisis" - or flux. There is potential for harm, but also opportunity.

The love of God only becomes visible through us, who are loved by God. "I take my delight in you." (Luke 3, 22) "We are God's work of art." (Ephesians 2, 10)

We are not here for the life of the church: we are here for the life of the world.

Mysticism is not about people living in a cave, but about activity and practice in the world. Living simply is a collective effort, a globalised effort; so others may simply live: it needs to be a church activity. We are the saints, but there is no patron saint of equilibrium.

Jesus was known as a devil by his enemies, as a prophet by his followers. Prophets are not so much about holiness as wholly-ness: "I come that you may have life to the full" - not religion to the full!

"Mercy" (connoting nurture), "justice," "good faith" (Matthew 23, 23) are to be our watchwords. "As often as you did this to one of the least of my brethren, you did it to me." (Matthew 25, 40)


Mark said...

Sounds like you had a thought-provoking and challenging day; so sorry to have missed it.


Mark Boulton

Martin Davis said...

"I was so sorry to have had to miss one of Frank's Days. Glad to see that you had a good turn out. Thanks for your report - I know how difficult it is to get an impression of Frank's talks down on paper - like capturing a rainbow in a bucket." (This came by email, but I thought it was worth broadcasting, as it contains such a pretty and apt turn of phrase! - Martin)