I'm having a ball today getting to know in person a friend made through the blogosphere, new monastic "Abbess" Karen Ward from Church of the Apostles, Seattle. We had a great conversation this morning, celebrated Eucharist together and then enjoyed lunch with fellow staff at the Cathedral. I look forward to learning more from this deep, committed person and her flourishing faith communities in Seattle. Karen is in town to spend time with the Episcopal/Anglican Franciscan Sisters at the Community of St. Francis, they are Mission/Noe Valley neighbors.
Karen a month or so ago encouraged me to connect with Ian Mobsby when he and Aaron (another member of the Moot) were visiting the Bay Area. Ian is back in the UK now, experiencing the challenges of terrorism, below is a portion of his most recent post on the Moot blog. Moving, courageous, compassionate, reconciling, faithful and strong are words that emerge for me after reading it.
Since then we have had the near-bombs, and today I was caught up in a bomb scare whilst innocently going out to buy a shirt for a date. It was very frightening. They cleared the street because of a suspicious and large bag near lots of very glass-filled buildings. We hit the deck under the direction of the police to see Forensic police with their white overalls and jackets and projective clothing. I was un-nerved. The city has felt very anxious for a week. I was upset by the angry crowd shouting comments such as "Islamist bastards" resentment was just below the surface and connected with all sorts of racist demonisation. Yes, I was profoundly shocked by the report of the security guard at Glasgow who starkly talked of the man half dead in his failed attempt to mass-kill who beat off the police thumping himself shouting "Allah Allah". Yes, I have been profoundly shocked and angered by this. But this is not Islamophobia. It reflects the increasing breakdown of relationality in our culture - which is increasingly being replaced by competition, and competition between competing groups and communities.
Our common humanity is being attacked by a culture overly defined by competition - by market forces, so that we as Christians, need to follow the New Commandment the key understanding of the Kingdom of God. That it is a call to love, to self-giving love, to seek the Christ in all peoples in all cultures, to seek the peace that comes from breaking down stereotypes, loving anger into peace and reconciliation, and to remember our call to live a vision that transcends media manipulation and simplistic solutions. We start - as in Christ - in our common humanity - to bring transformation and renewed humanity. So rather than getting angry after the scare which reminded me of my own vulnerability or mortality - have felt deep sadness - for a world that is increasingly fanatical - and fanatical for a reason. And we all have a part to play in promoting and living in a way that reduces competition and brings value... So I am trying to live this way - even in threatening and anxious times.