I continue to be exercised by the shift from engaging in political and theological reasoning to simply responding and appealing to assumption, emotion and prejudice.
But last month snippets from two Anglican leaders (a layperson with roots in the Irish ascendancy and a Bishop with roots in the Afro-American south) remind me that reconciliation depends at an important level on holding together an awareness of instinct and argument, relationship and vision.
Peter Hannon has died. His father was a war-time Archdeacon of Dromore and his brother Bishop of the cross-border diocese of Clogher through recent difficult years. He was committed himself as a champion of what was for many years called Moral Rearmament. His friend Mary Lean wrote in The Guardian:
Peter maintained that in any conflict situation feelings were as decisive as facts. He liked to recall a conversation, early in the Troubles, with Gerry O’Neill, a Catholic leader from the Falls Road. Asked for the facts of a situation, O’Neill replied: ‘Facts only confuse the issue. Each side has its own set of facts, mostly accurate, but selected to prove its own case. Each ignores the real fact, which is what the other side feels'.
Michael Curry is the Presiding Bishop of TEC (the Episcopal Church in the USA) and answered an interview question about ministry in that church at a time of political division:
One of the things I learned as a parish pastor was that those relationships affected everything else. People could disagree with you, but if they knew you loved them and cared for them and vice versa and were in relationship with them, they might disagree with you and they might put some grey hair on you too, but it didn’t cause schism, you see what I mean? That pastoral relationship impacted everything else. If that wasn’t there, it doesn’t matter how right or wrong you were. You could be prophetic all day, but if you don’t have a pastoral relationship, it doesn’t matter.
The pictures were taken at the Birdsong Green Burial Site near Alford, which we discovered on Bank Holiday Monday.