How do you cross a a deep shark-filled chasm? And should you even try?
In my last post I said I was delighted with the outcome from the Church of England General Synod in voting for the draft legislation on women bishops. Not everyone feels that way. I've been reading reactions from within and outside the church, some of which I've found truly shocking and saddening. I was therefore much encouraged this morning to read the 14 July 2010 Pastoral Letter of +John Pritchard, the Bishop of Oxford. Thank you Bishop John!
He quotes a vivid image used by Canon Sue Booys who said,
"the conscience of those in favour allowed them to get to a certain point, and the conscience of those opposed to the legislation enabled them to get to another point - and these lines are only ten yards apart, but the chasm between them is very deep and full of sharks."
I was very taken by that image of a deep chasm full of sharks. I think it's helpful as long as one doesn't identitfy the sharks with particular individuals or groups. I think the sharks are things like attitudes such as 'we're not going to listen to you, because we know we're right' or being so focused on schism that others can see nothing Christ-like about the church community.
Bishop John goes on to say that as the process continues, the task is to see if we can close that gap.
"To develop the image, we might not attempt to leap over a ten yard gap, but we might be prepared to try three. Perhaps we should try to get behind the rhetoric and focus entirely on what makes up those ten yards and what might close that gap. It might be impossible; the gap may be too deep and the sharks too hungry, but it might just be achievable..."He makes some helpful suggestions about how. As he says,
"Mutual recrimination is not a helpful way of being Christian. supporting and serving one another as we examine that ten yard gap is a much better way."Well, enough of quoting my diocesan bishop, read his letter for yourself here.