Bishop Damien Mead has just written up his experience in As it happened …. The Bishop’s Diary during CRE 2013, as the Anglican Catholic Church in England had a stand on the recent International Christian Resources Exhibition.
People come in all kinds, just as they use their computers to do the same thing here on the blogs. Most people are open-minded and want to learn, because their fundamental philosophy of life is tolerant and modern, and their religion motivated by love and generosity. Some are fearful, ignorant, looking for a fight, stingy, you name it.
It’s still an especial shock to the system when facing people in the flesh and seeing the flaring of nostrils and reddening of faces! But far more shocking is actually being in the physical presence of those who display such ignorance!
But, it should be stressed, there as here in the blogosphere, that most people are open-minded and positive:
We have had a lot of positive and encouraging comments from our fellow Christians.
It is exactly my experience as a blogger. We are never going to solve the issues of human nature, sin, negativity, ignorance, prejudice and so forth. Each of us also has shadows to clean out from our souls, so that we might be as welcoming as we would like other people to be.
I have found a lovely page of quotes from wise people in history about ignorance and prejudice – just to quote a couple:
“Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilised by education: they grow there, firm as weeds among stones.”― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
“It’s an universal law– intolerance is the first sign of an inadequate education. An ill-educated person behaves with arrogant impatience, whereas truly profound education breeds humility.” ― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Here is also one of my favourites from Oscar Wilde:
Like all poetical natures he [Christ] loved ignorant people. He knew that in the soul of one who is ignorant there is always room for a great idea. But he could not stand stupid people, especially those who are made stupid by education: people who are full of opinions not one of which they even understand, a peculiarly modern type, summed up by Christ when he describes it as the type of one who has the key of knowledge, cannot use it himself, and does not allow other people to use it, though it may be made to open the gate of God’s Kingdom. His chief war was against the Philistines. That is the war every child of light has to wage. Philistinism was the note of the age and community in which he lived. In their heavy inaccessibility to ideas, their dull respectability, their tedious orthodoxy, their worship of vulgar success, their entire preoccupation with the gross materialistic side of life, and their ridiculous estimate of themselves and their importance, the Jews of Jerusalem in Christ’s day were the exact counterpart of the British Philistine of our own. Christ mocked at the ‘whited sepulchre’ of respectability, and fixed that phrase for ever. He treated worldly success as a thing absolutely to be despised. He saw nothing in it at all. He looked on wealth as an encumbrance to a man. He would not hear of life being sacrificed to any system of thought or morals. He pointed out that forms and ceremonies were made for man, not man for forms and ceremonies. He took sabbatarianism as a type of the things that should be set at nought. The cold philanthropies, the ostentatious public charities, the tedious formalisms so dear to the middle-class mind, he exposed with utter and relentless scorn. To us, what is termed orthodoxy is merely a facile unintelligent acquiescence; but to them, and in their hands, it was a terrible and paralysing tyranny. Christ swept it aside. He showed that the spirit alone was of value. He took a keen pleasure in pointing out to them that though they were always reading the law and the prophets, they had not really the smallest idea of what either of them meant. In opposition to their tithing of each separate day into the fixed routine of prescribed duties, as they tithe mint and rue, he preached the enormous importance of living completely for the moment.
We’re not going to solve it here, but a gentle reminder is good for us all.