Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Victors Reaching Out To Losers
I love having satellite radio in my car, and the other day I was listening to a piece as I was driving about peacekeeping and reconciliation. It was from the BBC World Service and was by Paddy Ashdown, a former military officer, British MP and party leader, and then international representative in Bosnia.
He started in Berlin at the museum established to commemorate the occupation of Germany during the immediate post-war period. Ashdown and his interviewees talked about the peacekeeping success of Germany in that era from which many lessons were learned and applied as difficulties have arisen elsewhere.
One example that was pulled from the hat was that the victors sought to reach out to and make friends with the losers. The museum apparently highlights this in many of its exhibits, and Ashdown and the curator to whom he was talking discussed this.
That one statement got me off thinking about the crisis in the Episcopal Church, where no such thing is going on. Indeed, there seems to be a determination by the present "victors" to drive forward their agenda regardless of the distress it causes to the apparent "losers," or the damage it might be doing the denomination. I'm not sure how a reaching out and making friends would take place, but certainly that moritorium on litigation would be a great starting point, for then it would be possible to sit down to try and talk our way through this issue to some satisfactory resolution without an axe hanging over the heads of any of the parties involved.
People will inevitably complain that this would take far too long, but there is no such thing as a quick fix when it comes to these kinds of circumstances. Besides, it seems that prolonged stretching out of what might be right and worthwhile is never a good reason for not doing it. John Bauerschmidt, our bishop, points out that church conflicts seldom sort themselves out quickly -- and this one should be no exception. Yet our fallen-ness tends to encourage us to put speed ahead of what might be a faithful way of proceeding.
The other day, as I was thinking this through, I tried out my thoughts about victors reaching out to losers on a friend whose insights I value. He thought about it for a few moments then said something to the effect that do we know who the winners and the losers are?
Good point. It do not doubt that it will take several generations before we are able to see this time in perspective and only then will we have some clarity. However, I have in my mind this hunch that ultimately these difficult events through which we are now living will appear very differently then than they do now to those of us who are living through them.
As I read over and over again the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, the reaching out of victors to losers, and vice-versa, seem to have to do with the very uncomfortable teaching of our Lord. There is some turning the other cheek stuff going on here, which itself in the Sermon is a lead up to the loving of our enemies. Oh, and while we seek to love our enemies we are called to "pray for those who persecute" us (Matthew 5:44). Now here are some challenging words in these circumstances.
If we are looking for a way forward, a way out of the present impasse, then we would cannot do much better than to really soak ourselves in the words and actions of the One we consider our Lord and Savior. These values of the Kingdom are demanding, and I am not sure a godly way forward is possible until some of us on ever side of this sorry affair start taking them seriously.