Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Cold and judgmental

The temperature dropped to minus 11 degrees at 2.00 a.m. today.

We’ve been to two Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust local branch lectures recently, one a few weeks ago by the resident meteorologist from RAF Coningsby and the other this month by the Ecology Officer of the local Council. We have been grateful, although the experience alerted us to what it must feel like coming to church for the first time - painful seats, over solicitous enquiries about whether we had been before, long notices with frequent references to a range of people by their first names, ugly coffee, and so on. This is where we learnt about the local weather station managed by the Ecology Officer and the way instant information from it is available on the local Council website at http://www.nelincs.gov.uk/environment/weather/.

He told us how low the temperature had fallen the previous night and was contradicted by a member who said she’d recorded a much lower reading. He explained that his weather station used Met Office standard cones over its thermometers so that a genuine air temperature could be recorded without the exaggerating influence of any wind. She wasn’t going to have what she had already decided was true taken away from her and would have none of it, remarking that she had several thermometers on different walls. Again I was reminded of the way in which most religious (and political) arguments make no progress simply because people are fundamentally settled on the way in which they look at things.

It has to be one of the main reasons we are told not to judge, and why the judgmental remarks in the last two paragraphs point back at me and the churches of which I am part. This is the Advent message I’ve been preaching to myself and others in the last two weeks. In Matthew 11 Jesus says both ‘tell John what you see’ and ‘what did you go into the desert to see?’ and the wonderful traffic safety awareness clip at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ahg6qcgoay4 has helped me drive home the point that we are not as well equipped to give the sort of objective answers to such questions as we would like to think we are.

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