Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Myopia

Looking at the news yesterday evening and this morning, you might be forgiven for thinking that the only thing happening in the world at the moment is a raging controversy over whether a (moderately unpopular) government minister is right or wrong to send her dyslexic child to a private special needs to school rather than a state school.

Meanwhile our oil supplies are being cut off by Russia, the genocide in Darfur continues with very little signs of the West intervening to stop the killing, a major new front on the War against Terror (or Terrorism) is opening in Somalia, and Afghanistan and Iraq descend in to further chaos. And that is leaving to one side global warming and the mounting crisis of the AIDS pandemic.

The British press can be be brain bogglingly myopic and petty at times.

Meanwhile many of my fellow believers (some of whom I count as personal friends) are protesting against the new sexual orientation regulations soon to go through Parliament. While I suspect that many of their anxieties about this legislation are exaggerated (but not totally), I find myself uncomfortable to see fellow believers marching against legislation that is widely perceived (however inaccurately) to be promoting justice and equality of opportunity to people. Whether or not I agree with someone's lifestyle or choices has nothing to do with what rights and dignity I extend to them as a human being. Jesus certainly seemed to reserve most of his harshest words for the religious establishment and its promotion of its own agenda to the exclusion of the needs of ordinary people (e.g. the seven woes in Matthew 23).

Meanwhile, in addition to all of the above global problems, the church in Africa lives in poverty, its congregations depleted by AIDS, malnutrition and people leaving to find work in the cities or other nations, while in other parts of the world (including Iraq, Afghanistan, China, Central and South East Asia and northern Africa) Christians are regularly imprisoned, tortured or put to death for their faith.

Are we so introverted in the British church that all we care about is threats to our own rights and status? Surely that should be the last thing on our mind - especially considering how privileged we are in this wealthy, peaceful nation of ours.

Paul got it right; we lay our rights down before God and the needs of the poor and the vulnerable (e.g. 2 Corinthians 6: 3-10). I like the bit a bout not putting stumbling blocks in people's way. I fear sometimes we come over as harsh and shrill and bigoted rather than full of grace and peace. But then again, some of that is also the way the media spins what we say.

And that, at the end of the day, is the problem - what we see of the world and how we respond to it is so shaped by the myopic lens of the media that we miss what is really going on.

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