INDIFFERENCE TO DIFFERENCE

THE FACT THAT the English have finally become a tolerant nation, “indifference to difference”, has been born out of their religious past … said Diarmaid MacCulloch in How God Made The English, part 3, BBC.

Still a way to go, I think. But if, as Professor MacCulloch suggests, the Church of England continues to serve as a focal point, a gathering place for peoples of every ethnic origin, race or creed – in times of joy or sadness – then she will be modelling the love and service of the Christ who is her foundation. And we ought to note, thankfully, that she’ll have received a bit of help and a spot of nudging encouragement in that task from the BBC.

With all my heart I believe that the “cosmic Christ”, the anointed messenger, revealed to us today by the Spirit of God at work across the religious spectrum, is open-armed and open-hearted, truly indifferent to difference, not even remotely contained or constricted by our doctrines, highest thoughts or most fervent prayers.

The most useful lessons of history show us that the past doesn’t always fit our notions of “good old days”. Not all of them were, are or will be good days. And there’s never only one story to be told. The mysteries of good and bad, joy and pain, love and hate, health and suffering are sometimes well-nigh overwhelming for all of us. But every human person has been awarded the same gift by the Source of all things – the chance to make something of being alive in this world. And everybody wins, in the economy of God, for no other reason than that they are alive.

The “times they are a-changing” for the better wherever tolerance and mutual respect come to prevail. Generous inclusivity will be the hallmark not only of our nation’s future, but the Church’s as well. Grateful to Professor MacCulloch and to the BBC for this excellent 3 part mini-series there’d be substantial benefit in our seeing both working together to make some more. On the eve of Holy Week, for some of the world’s Christians, I am inspired, hopeful and grateful.