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Above the clamour 29 March 2017

Posted by Dr Moose in Faith, Life, Politics.
Tags: , , ,

Today’s word is something we all need, and something I need more of today than some other days. At the one level I already have more of it, at least an externalised version of it, as the university has entered a slower, quieter, phase and activity and noise levels are down (even if stress levels are rising as dissertation deadlines loom close and the reality of the approaching exam season takes on an inevitability that some students have been doing their best to ignore, leading to their internal lack of it!)

The word is peace.

The Biblical Hebrew concept of Peace, shalom, goes far deeper than a passive absence of conflict, instead it’s closer to something about an active presence of wholeness and well-being, and as such that should be carried forward into the Christian faith, seeing as how the later is viewed as a reinterpretation and fulfillment o f the former. For two of the three synoptic Gospels peace is something pronounced to a household upon arrival (Matt 10:12-14, Luke 10:4-6.) John’s Gospel makes a big thing about Jesus giving his peace, both prior to his crucifixion and after the Resurrection. It’s not the same as guaranteeing a life of ease, nor freedom from hardship (even persecution), but of a deeper completeness, contentment and confidence on our place and value within the bigger picture than our immediate circumstances. The practice in the Church of England in sharing the Peace before we move our focus to the table for the Holy Communion, is (probably) intended in this light, (as well as Jesus’ injunctions to make sure we are right with our fellow believers before we bring an offering to him, with slight re-interpretation, given the lack of agreed sacrificial ritual in the Church). It’s not simply an excuse to interact with other members of the congregation (whether we like it or not), a consciously ‘horizontal’ action between believers rather than a ‘vertical’ one, rising from believers to the divine.

Beyond the Jewish and Christian traditions, the greeting I share with our Imam and some of the Muslim students is one of wishing God’s peace to one another.

Peace, shalom, is something needed beyond the personal, or solely within the body of the Church, but in the wider body politic. Today, of all days, with the PM passing formal notification of the UK governments intent and desire to leave the European Union. It’s somewhat ironic then that one of the lasting achievements of the EU has been in establishing and strengthening peaceful engagement between nations, especially when conflicts so often have occurred over natural resources. It should be no surprise that a founder constituent of what technically were the European Communities (note the plural) when I was studying them as part of my Political Geography courses in the later 1980s, before the transition to the European Union, was the European Coal and Steel Community. A community and agreement that reflected the importance of coal and iron reserves found in the historically-contested territories that so frequently changed hands between the France and Germany from the 19th century onwards.

It’s the same contemporary political wrangle that dominates my personal need for peace at the moment, but also spills into our national life. To achieve a meaningful peace and consensus when there is such strong polarisation of opinions, will take more than proclaiming it into existence, which feels like the current government policy.  What if we all want “the best deal” by our own standards, and those are so radically different? Jesus may, with a fair deal of divine authority proclaim “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives,” but should any politician attempt to do the same we’d suspect delusions of grandeur at the very least, and mental dysfunction that would give grounds for removal, at the worst.

In the mean time I will seek shalom, peace, in prayer and poetry. My wish.

Above the clamour,
Raging stillness to drown
Discord’s noise.
Below the skin, deep,
Slow, beat of presence,
Calming tossing beast within.
Beyond the mortal,
Inhaling breath Divine, to
Fill, still and with us

bag cat



1. Hear here | Life, Faith and Role-Playing Games - 30 March 2017

[…] with the last couple of day’s posts (peace, remain, lose), in the political climate of the UK at this time it’s a hard word for me to […]

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